Viral Conjunctivitis

Are you suffering from itchiness in the eyes and having water draining from them? You may be a victim of Viral Conjunctivitis. Read on to know what is Viral Conjunctivitis, its causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.

Viral Conjunctivitis Definition

Viral Conjunctivitis is a type of Conjunctivitis or inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin membrane that covers the whites of the eyes as well as the inner surface of the eyelids. This is the most common kind of eye infection. It results from an infection of the eyes by a virus, often by a variety that may also cause common cold.

Viral Conjunctivitis occurs in 20% of all cases of Conjunctivitis. It is also often referred to as Epidemic Keratoconjunctivitis (EKC).

Viral Conjunctivitis Signs and Symptoms

Some of the main Viral Conjunctivitis symptoms are

Eye Redness

In patients of Viral Conjunctivitis redness of eyes is the first symptom. One or both eyes can get red within a short while after the beginning of infection. In some cases, redness occurs due to a Subconjunctival Hemorrhage which causes bleeding between the conjunctiva and the sclera.

Eye Itching

Most sufferers of this condition complain of itchiness in the eyes. In sufferers of Viral Conjunctivitis red eyes are accompanied with itchiness that may vary from mild to acute.

Mild Eye Pain

For patients of Viral Conjunctivitis pain in the eyes is the most common symptom. In Viral Conjunctivitis eye pain can be moderate or severe.

Eye Discharge

In individuals affected with Viral Conjunctivitis watery eyes is a very discomforting condition. In Viral Conjunctivitis eye discharge results in blurry vision and difficulty in seeing things.

Gritty Sensation

Patients of this disease also suffer from a discomforting sensation of having sand-like particles in their eyes.

Mucus Discharge

In later stages of Viral Conjunctivitis yellow discharge from the eyes may also occur. This is a sign of infection which causes discharge of mucus from the eyes. In case of mucus discharge in Viral Conjunctivitis blurred vision is common.

In Viral Conjunctivitis one eye is usually infected first and develops complications. But the infection spreads fast to the other eye as well. In most cases of Viral Conjunctivitis other eye is also affected.

What Causes Viral Conjunctivitis?

As the name suggests, Viral Conjunctivitis is caused by viral infection of the eyes. Such an infection may happen due to several viral diseases like :


In most cases of Viral Conjunctivitis Adenovirus is found to be the common cause. Adenovirus is transmitted by water and air. Viral Conjunctivitis is regularly caused by Adenovirus Type 8 and Adenovirus Type 19.

Herpes Simplex

Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) is another major cause of this condition and regarded to be most problematic. Herpetic conditions involving Herpes Simplex and Herpes Zoster may lead to this type of Conjunctivitis. Herpetic keratoconjunctivitis is a severe form of Viral Conjunctivitis caused by HSV.

Coxsackie Virus

Coxsackie A24 Virus is the cause of Acute Hemorrhagic Conjunctivitis. This is a severely contagious disease caused by Coxsackievirus A24 along with Enterovirus 70.

Viral Conjunctivitis Diagnosis

Viral Conjunctivitis usually resolves itself after a few days and requires no treatment. But cure becomes necessary when the condition persists for a long time and causes severe discomforts. Treatment is usually carried out after a proper diagnosis of the disorder.

Viral Conjunctivitis is generally diagnosed by physical observation of the eyes and asking patients about the symptoms. But in some cases, laboratory examination is conducted on a swab of Conjunctiva to check for viruses. Viral Cultures may also be carried out for a proper diagnosis.

Viral Conjunctivitis Differential Diagnosis

The differential diagnosis for Viral Conjunctivitis involves distinguishing the disease from other types of Conjunctivitis caused by allergies, parasites, chemicals, bacteria and fungus. Differential diagnosis also involves separating the disorder from other similar conditions like

  • Scleritis
  • Uveitis
  • Corneal ulcer or abrasion
  • Blepharitis
  • Foreign body exposure
  • Iritis
  • Glaucoma
  • Herpes zoster
  • Herpes zoster ophthalmicus

Conjunctivitis Treatment

As aforesaid, Viral Conjunctivitis resolves itself in a few days without treatment. But treatment becomes necessary in extremely discomforting cases.

Viral Conjunctivitis Medication

Viral Conjunctivitis treatment is typically done with the aid of eye drops and eye rinses in the initial stages. Severe infections involving Herpes Simplex virus are dealt with oral antiviral medicines. These Viral Conjunctivitis medicines include drugs like Zovirax, Dendrid, Viroptic and Vira-A.

Applying artificial tears such as Murine, Refresh or Celluvisc on the eyes may also reduce the symptoms and provide relief. Swelling of the eyes may be relieved with the help of Corticosteroid anti-inflammatory eye drops like Pred Forte and AK-Pred. Itching symptoms may be alleviated with Antihistamine eye drops like Livostin.

Many patients press physicians for antibiotic eye drops and ointments. These are useful in preventing bacterial infections but are useless for Viral Conjunctivitis cure as they are incapable of destroying viruses causing infection of the Conjunctiva. In Viral Conjunctivitis antibiotics have little or no use.

Viral Conjunctivitis Home Remedy

Some of the main Viral Conjunctivitis home remedies are

Saline Eye Wash

Washing eyes several times a day with a saline solution can effectively reduce the symptoms of ocular viral infection.

Cool Compress

Boil 3 glasses of water in a bowl to kill all germs. Keep this under cover to cool. Soak a fairly large cotton pad or washcloth with some of this water after 2-3 hours and press it against your affected eyes for about 10 minutes. Perform this exercise for 3-4 times every day to get relief from the symptoms.

Breast Milk

Newborns and infants are highly susceptible to Viral Conjunctivitis because of their tendency to touch eyes, nose and mouth with unclean fingers. Breast milk is regarded to be the most perfect baby food that consists of many antibodies that boost immunity. In babies affected with Viral Conjunctivitis breast milk works as a powerful remedy and cures viral cases of Conjunctivitis very effectively.

Chamomile Compress

Place Chamomile teabags for 2-3 minutes in mildly warmed water. Squeeze off excess of water and place the wet warm bag over the eye for 2-3 minutes. Repeat the process three to four times every day to reduce inflammation in the eyes.

Baby Shampoo

In Viral infection watery discharge is common from one or both eyes. Baby shampoo acts as a remedy for this condition. It is non-irritating as it is specially made to suit the natural Ph of human eyes. If you are having an ocular discharge, make a mixture of baby shampoo and water in a 1:10 ratio. Soak a cotton ball with a little of this solution and clean the eyes. This is effective in wiping away crusts and viral secretions from the eyes.

Viral Conjunctivitis Prevention

It is also essential to avoid touching the eyes with ands or sharing washcloth, towels or handkerchiefs with others. This will spread the infection to the unaffected eye as well and also make others suffer from this condition. In Viral Conjunctivitis both eyes are infected due to poor hygiene and unclean hands. Prevention is possible with good hygiene.

Does Viral Conjunctivitis Get Better?

In most cases, Viral Conjunctivitis duration is between two to five days without treatment. With medical treatment and home remedies like artificial tears and cold compress the disease resolves faster.

Is Viral Conjunctivitis Recurrent?

In Viral Conjunctivitis recurring does not usually happen unless it is left untreated. If not treated in time, the condition may recur after a few weeks or months. This is exactly why a timely treatment often becomes necessary to eradicate this disease. However, viral conjunctivitis keeps coming back only in a few cases.

Is Viral Conjunctivitis Contagious?

Viral Conjunctivitis, like Bacterial Conjunctivitis, is a contagious condition. Any microbial infection is transmissible and it is the same with Conjunctivitis caused by virus. Viral Conjunctivitis is contagious from before the appearance of the symptoms to as long as the effects last.

How Does Viral Conjunctivitis Spread?

Viral Conjunctivitis is an extremely transmissible disease and spreads fro contact with body fluids infected with virus. Touching the eye discharge of an affected person and rubbing eyes with the same hand can make you contract this condition. The disease may also spread by using towels and eye-makeup products of an infected person.

Viral Conjunctivitis quickly spreads in schools and child-care centers. These are two places where children pick up this disease the most.

Viral Conjunctivitis Complications

In Viral Conjunctivitis risk factors are numerous. If the disease is neglected and left untreated for a long time, it may give rise to a number of complications like Keratoconjunctivitis and Blepharitis. In rare cases, it may cause a condition known as Entrepion where eyelashes point inwards towards the eye resulting in vision difficulties.

Some types of virus affect deeper regions of the eye thus giving rise to Keratitis or a swelling of the cornea causing abnormalities in vision and even scarring of the eyelids in some cases.

These complications are, however, quite rare. Viral Conjunctivitis is mostly self-limited and benign.

Viral Conjunctivitis Incubation Period

In case of Viral Conjunctivitis Incubation Period is generally anywhere between 12 hours and 3 days. The signs and symptoms appear after this period.

If you suspect yourself or anyone in your family to be having Viral Conjunctivitis, start home remedies as fast as possible. If the symptoms refuse to die down, seek immediate medical attention and get it treated fast. Faster diagnosis and treatment is always useful in avoiding future complications. Viral Conjunctivitis has an excellent prognosis and with effective treatment you are likely to recover in just a day or two.


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