viral conjunctivitis

Also known as “pink eye,” this is a viral infection in the eye that makes the conjunctiva red and irritated. The conjunctiva is the thin layer of skin that covers the white of your eye.  This skin layer is extremely thin, but you can see it when looking in the mirror as blood vessels course through the skin. When you get an infection of this delicate skin layer, the blood vessels dilate and the eye appears to be “pink.”  In adults, the majority of eye infections (conjunctivitis) are from viral sources – it’s like getting the flu, but instead of getting head or chest congestion, the eye is involved. Just as with the flu, there is no good treatment for viral infections other than letting the infection run its course. Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious.  If you have it, wash your hands frequently and don’t share towels or makeup.  It may take up to two weeks for the infection to clear and the conjunctivitis may jump to the other eye before the end.  If there are any visual changes, the eye needs to be rechecked to make sure there is no corneal involvement (i.e., corneal ulcer formation).

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Dr. Timothy Root is a practicing ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon in Daytona Beach, Florida. His books, video lectures, and training resources can be found at:

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