Viral Conjunctivitis

The usual type of viral conjunctivitis is Adenoviral Conjunctivitis. Several different types of adenovirus cause Viral conjunctivitis (so if you develop immunity to one type you can still get another!)

Viral conjunctivitis usually begins in one eye. The eye gets very red and the lids can be puffy and there is a watery mucous discharge. The gland in front of the ear on that side is often swollen and tender. If it infects the second eye, there is usually a gap of a few days.

About half the time people who have Viral conjunctivitis also have a "cold". It is quite contagious so you should not let others use your towels. Take great care after handling your eye (or putting drops in); wash your hands so you don't infect your other eye or other people.


90+% of patients get better in 7-14 days. Antibiotic drops don't help. If the eye is very red and swollen then using Visine or Albalon drops will make the eye feel better while the condition improves. Some patients may require steroid drops. Non-steroidal drops can also be used, but is less potent.

A small number of patients have persisting problems:

  1. Corneal involvement. If the cornea becomes involved the vision gets persistently blurred. If this happens, you must go back to the Ophthalmologist in a day or so for attention. Some patients need steroid eye drops, and some patients need to keep on using them for months and months.
  2. Chronic irritation: A small number of patients end up with a chronic irritable eye for months.