Viral Conjunctivitis

The most common form of viral conjunctivitis (often called “pink eye”) is usually characterized by tearing, lid swelling and redness, foreign body sensation, and blurred vision. These symptoms often begin in one eye and spread to the fellow eye often in a couple of days. Fortunately the second eye is usually not as severely infected. Symptoms frequently last up to three weeks.

The contagious phase ends approximately 10-14 days after the onset of symptoms in the second eye. It is during this phase that the precautions listed below may be most helpful. Treatment during this stage of the infection is primarily supportive since there are currently no antiviral agents to treat this infection. Therapy often includes cold compresses and drops that sooth and whitens the eye example Naphcon A.

Persistent blurring, sensitivity to light, and foreign body sensation may last months. If these symptoms interfere with ones ability to function, treatment with anti-inflammatory medications (steroid eye drops) may be recommended by Dr. Sala. Since these medications may promote development of cataracts and glaucoma in certain individuals, they are not routinely used. Any patient started on these medications will need to be monitored if used over long periods of time. Naphcon A may be used for symptomatic relief.

Precautions to be taken with a viral infection of the eye

  • Always wash your hands after touching your eyes.
  • When wiping your eyes, use tissues. These should be thrown away immediately
  • Use separate towels, soap, and toiletries, etc
  • You may use a cold compress to reduce the lid swelling and sooth the eye.
  • Do not share cosmetics
  • You may continue to work if your vision is compatible with the safe performance of nyour work and you can work independently enough to prevent the spread of infection to fellow employees. Individuals working in the health care field and food service fields should not work during the contagious stage of the disease. If you should have any questions about the advisability of working please feel free to ask Dr. Sala.