Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious and is most often caused by adenovirus. Symptoms include irritation and redness, light sensitivity, foreign body sensation, and a watery discharge. Symptoms may start in one eye and rapidly spread to the other eye. There may also be small bumps on the inside of the lids, called follicles. Many cases of viral conjunctivitis occur from coming in contact with someone who has conjunctivitis or from a recent upper respiratory infection.
Features that may help differentiate between viral and bacterial conjunctivitis can include type of ocular discharge or swollen or painful lymph nodes (common in those with viral conjunctivitis). Viral conjunctivitis can typically be diagnosed with a visual examination, but cultures may be done to ensure cause of conjunctivitis. It is important to keep hands clean, avoid touching the affected eye(s), and to not share things like towels or pillows.
Typically, viral conjunctivitis will resolve on its own in 1-3 weeks. In severe cases where there is corneal involvement or extreme light sensitivity, a topical steroid drop may be prescribed to treat inflammation and help with symptoms. If you believe you may have viral conjunctivitis, it is always a good idea to be checked by an ophthalmologist. You can call Dr. Dudee’s office at (859) 278-9486, and we will get you on our schedule as soon as possible.
*The above image shows an eye with viral conjunctivitis. Redness and watering is typical for this condition.