Viral Conjunctivitis is very common. It is also known as Pink Eye.

Knowing whether or not a conjunctivitis contracted by a sufferer is viral as opposed to bacterial or allergic may be of little consequence since the symptoms are similar and all are extremely uncomfortable. In fact most conjunctivitis will resolve without any treatment within a week.

What is Viral Conjunctivitis?

The main difference the patient needs to understand with viral conjunctivitis is that there will be NO antibiotics to be prescribed, because they simply won’t do any good. (They could actually do harm in that overuse can cause a significant allergic-type reaction to the preservatives that are in bottled eye drops.)  In Australia,  chlorsig eye drops are often prescribed.  This is of no value and often makes things worse, until you see a therapeutically trained optometrist.  Do NOT use chlorsig unless your optometrist says it is safe to do so!  Pink Eye cannot be treated by Chlorsig.

Viral conjunctivitis is contracted and spread by a virus, which is a parasite that needs a living body in order to replicate.

Viral Conjunctivitis Causes

Really there’s only one – coming into contact with someone who passes on the virus. It is transmitted through coughing or sneezing. It’s possible that the transmission might not be direct but come circuitously from measles or the plain old flu.

Viral Conjunctivitis Symptoms

Red eyes – often referred to as “pink eye” are the first indicator; excessive watery eyes and a discharge that is more noticeable in the mornings usually follow.

Sometimes eyelids can become swollen, and even the eye itself, which can leave the patient with a “glassy” look. A very severe bout can sometimes be accompanied by swelling in the ear or the neck.

Differences in symptoms between viral and bacterial conjunctivitis:

* Eye colour – viral more pink whilst bacterial more red

* Tears – viral has more tears than bacterial

* Discharge – bacterial is more pus-like

Of course symptoms vary between strains of infection and how people react to them, so the above differences can’t be used precisely.

Viral Conjunctivitis Treatment

Although the accepted treatment with viruses is to let the body do its work, some medications can alleviate the unpleasant symptoms a little and soothe the eyes.

Soothing the eyes can best be done by using a cold compress, but some therapeutically trained optometrists have had promising comfort-inducing results using steroid eye drops. Repeating however, the infection still takes its own time, which could be a few days but in some cases several months.

Recently optometrists in the USA have started using Iodine solution with steroid eye drops to resolve viral conjunctivitis. Even though solid studies to date have not been performed, the initial results seem to be outstanding.  Even though this treatment is ‘off-label”, we expect this ti become mainstream with an FDA approved combination drug shortly.

If vision becomes blurred then it’s advisable to avoid driving, and maybe work as well, especially if that means a lot of time at the computer screen. Your colleagues may miss you, but not your contagious viral eyes!

How NOT to spread the infection

A virus spreads by human contact, so avoiding unnecessary contact at work or at school is vital. The incubation period, that’s to say the time from first transmission from someone who has the infection to first signs of symptoms, is from one to three days. That time difference often leaves a sufferer with the vexing questions of “Who gave this to me?” and “Where did I get this”.

The answer sometimes of course is blatantly obvious if family, friends or work colleagues have come down with it, especially within the last fourteen days, the most contagious period.

Child day care centres one could think have been designed to spread viruses – and not only among the children. Who hasn’t heard of mothers and fathers being off work for something that little Johnny caught from the day care.

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