Viral Conjunctivitis: Symptoms, Treatments, and Prevention

Viral Conjunctivitis (Eyes Flu)

Viral conjunctivitis, commonly known as Pink Eye or Eyes Flu is a highly contagious eye infection that affects millions worldwide. Understanding its symptoms, treatments, and prevention strategies is crucial for maintaining optimal eye health.

Viral Conjunctivitis

What is Viral Conjunctivitis?

Viral conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin, transparent layer covering the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids. It is typically caused by a virus, such as adenovirus, and can spread easily through direct contact with contaminated surfaces or secretions from infected individuals.

Causes of Viral Conjunctivitis

Viral conjunctivitis is primarily caused by viral infections, most commonly adenovirus. However, other viruses such as herpes simplex virus (HSV), varicella-zoster virus (VZV), and picornavirus can also lead to this eye condition. These viruses can spread through various means, including:

1. Direct Contact:

Viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious and can spread through direct contact with infected individuals. This can occur through hand-to-eye contact or sharing items like towels, pillows, or makeup.

2. Indirect Contact:

The virus can also be transmitted indirectly by touching surfaces or objects contaminated with the virus, such as doorknobs, countertops, or shared items in public spaces.

3. Respiratory Secretions:

Viral particles present in respiratory secretions, such as droplets expelled during coughing or sneezing, can also lead to the transmission of viral conjunctivitis.

4. Pre-existing Infections:

In some cases, viral conjunctivitis may result from a pre-existing viral infection elsewhere in the body, such as a cold or flu.

5. Poor Hygiene Practices:

Failing to practise good hygiene, such as not washing hands frequently or sharing personal items, increases the risk of contracting and spreading viral conjunctivitis.

It's important to note that while viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious, practising good hygiene and taking preventive measures can help reduce the risk of transmission and minimise its impact on individuals and communities.

Symptoms of Viral Conjunctivitis

  • Redness in the white of the eye
  • Watery eyes
  • Itchy or gritty feeling in the eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Excessive tearing

Treatment Options

While viral conjunctivitis typically resolves on its own within one to two weeks, there are steps you can take to alleviate symptoms and speed up recovery:

1. Warm Compress:

Applying a warm compress to the affected eye can help reduce discomfort and loosen any crust or discharge.

2. Artificial Tears:

Over-the-counter artificial tears can provide temporary relief from dryness and irritation.

3. Antiviral Eye Drops:

In severe cases, your doctor may prescribe antiviral eye drops to help reduce the duration and severity of symptoms.

4. Avoiding Contact Lenses:

It's essential to refrain from wearing contact lenses until the infection clears to prevent further irritation and spread of the virus.

5. Good Hygiene Practices:

Practising good hygiene, such as frequent handwashing and avoiding touching your eyes, can help prevent the spread of viral conjunctivitis.

Prevention Strategies

To reduce the risk of contracting viral conjunctivitis:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Avoid sharing towels, pillows, or eye makeup with others.
  • Disinfect frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs and countertops.
  • Avoid close contact with individuals who have symptoms of conjunctivitis.


Viral conjunctivitis can cause discomfort and inconvenience, but with proper care and precautionary measures, its impact can be minimised. By staying informed about its symptoms, treatments, and prevention strategies, you can protect yourself and others from this common eye infection.


1. American Academy of Ophthalmology. (n.d.). Viral Conjunctivitis.

2. Mayo Clinic. (2022). Viral Conjunctivitis.

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