Other viral causes of conjunctivitis generally are self-limited and treated supportively with cool or warm compresses for comfort, topical antihistamines to limit redness and itching, chilled artificial tears for comfort, and topical antibiotics as necessary to prevent bacterial superinfection.
Do not go to daycare or school or go to work until pink eye has improved. If the pink eye is caused by bacteria, the person can usually return to daycare, school, or work after the infection has been treated for 24 hours with an antibiotic and symptoms are improving.
Viral conjunctivitis is another common type of pink eye that is highly contagious, because airborne viruses can be spread through sneezing and coughing. Viral conjunctivitis also can accompany common viral upper respiratory infections such as measles, the flu or the common cold.
This is what causes red, bloodshot eyes. Conjunctivitis can have several causes (see below), but many eye doctors use the term "pink eye" to refer only to viral conjunctivitis, a highly contagious infection caused by a variety of viruses.
This type of conjunctivitis is usually treated with antibiotic eye drops or ointments. Bacterial conjunctivitis may improve after three or four days of treatment, but patients need to take the entire course of antibiotics to prevent recurrence. Viral conjunctivitis. Antibiotics will not cure a viral infection.
You typically can't get rid of viral pink eye, but you can relieve symptoms through remedies such as eye drops containing antihistamines, decongestants or both. You also can relieve symptoms through home remedies such as applying warm or cool compresses — whichever feels better — to the outer, closed eyelids.
The symptoms of pink eye may vary depending on the cause but usually include:
- Redness or swelling of the white of the eye or inside the eyelids.
- Increased amount of tears.
- Eye discharge which may be clear, yellow, white or green.
- Itchy, irritated, and/or burning eyes.
- Gritty feeling in the eye.
Contagious Pink Eye Treatments. Topical antibiotic ointments or eye drops work to clear up infection in pink eye only if the source is bacterial. In this case, you need up to 24 hours for the eye drops or ointment to start working and for the infected person to no longer be contagious.
Viruses are a common cause of conjunctivitis in patients of all ages. A variety of viruses can be responsible for conjunctival infection; however, adenovirus is by far the most common cause, and herpes simplex virus (HSV) is the most problematic.
OTC decongestant eye drops such as naphazoline ophthalmic (for example, the brand-name products Bausch & Lomb Opcon-A® or Clear Eyes® Redness Reliever Eye Drops) can help get rid of the redness of bacterial conjunctivitis, but not the infection. There is no treatment for pinkeye due to a viral infection.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is most often treated with ophthalmic antibiotic eyedrops or ointments such as Bleph (sulfacetamide sodium), Moxeza (moxifloxacin), Zymar (gatifloxacin), Romycin (erythromycin), Polytrim (polymyxin/trimethoprim), Ak-Tracin, Bacticin (bacitracin), AK-Poly-Bac, Ocumycin, Polycin-B, Polytracin
Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious. Most viruses that cause conjunctivitis spread through hand-to-eye contact by hands or objects that are contaminated with the infectious virus. Having contact with infectious tears, eye discharge, fecal matter, or respiratory discharges can contaminate hands.
Pinkeye that's caused by bacteria can spread to others as soon as symptoms appear and for as long as there's discharge from the eye — or until 24 hours after antibiotics are started. Conjunctivitis that's caused by a virus is generally contagious before symptoms appear and can remain so as long as the symptoms last.
If untreated, this condition can lead to corneal ulcers and blindness. Other types of bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are usually treated with antibiotic eye drops or ointments. A warm compress to the eye may also help relieve swelling and irritation. Blocked tear ducts may cause conjunctivitis.
However, pinkeye caused by allergens and chemical irritants is not contagious by person-to-person contact. Pinkeye that is contagious has an incubation period as long as 14 days. However, most doctors do not think that pinkeye becomes contagious to other people until symptoms start to develop.
Diagnosis. A doctor can often determine whether a virus, bacterium, or allergen is causing the conjunctivitis (pink eye) based on patient history, symptoms, and an examination of the eye. Conjunctivitis always involves eye redness or swelling, but it also has other symptoms that can vary depending on the cause.
For pink eye caused by bacteria, the treatment will usually be antibiotic eye drops or ointment. This generally clears the symptoms within a few days. Be sure to complete the full course of antibiotic treatment. For more stubborn infections, an oral antibiotic may be prescribed.
This depends on what caused the pink eye and the conditions of the surface on which it lives. However, most bacteria are not able to survive after 2 to 8 hours, though some last for 2 days or more. Viruses tend to be more hardy, with most surviving 24 to 48 hours. Some viruses can last up to 8 weeks.
You do not need to keep your child out of school or day care for that whole time. Children with bacterial pink eye may return to school or day care 24 hours after starting eye drops or ointment. Children with allergic pink eye are not contagious. Your child may still go to school or day care.
Most adenoviral infections last from a few days to a week. However: severe respiratory infections may last longer and cause lingering symptoms, such as a cough. pneumonia can last anywhere from 2–4 weeks.
Meibomitis and blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid) are also often associated with the skin disorder acne rosacea. Trachoma infection of the eyes can also cause chronic conjunctivitis and can lead to chronic keratoconjunctivitis. Trachoma infection is the most common cause of preventable blindness in the world.