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Viral Conjunctivitis (pink eye)

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Last updated June 11, 2022

Viral conjunctivitis quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your viral conjunctivitis.

Viral conjunctivitis quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your viral conjunctivitis.

Take viral conjunctivitis quiz

What is viral conjunctivitis (pink eye)?

Viral conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is an inflammation of the clear membranes covering the eye. It causes redness, pain, and irritation of one or both eyes.

The viral form of conjunctivitis is very contagious because it is caused by the same viruses that cause the flu or the common cold. It is spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes, and then someone else inhales the virus from the droplets in the air.

Symptoms

Treatment

A doctor can usually diagnose pink eye by examining your eye. If it’s a viral infection, you will not be given antibiotic eye drops, because these don’t help against a viral illness. Treatment includes easing the symptoms with eye drops and warm or cool compresses over the eyes. If the doctor believes it is bacterial conjunctivitis, you’ll be given antibiotic eye drops.

Ready to treat your viral conjunctivitis?

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Dr. Rothschild has been a faculty member at Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He currently practices as a hospitalist at Newton Wellesley Hospital. In 1978, Dr. Rothschild received his MD at the Medical College of Wisconsin and trained in internal medicine followed by a fellowship in critical care medicine. He also received an MP...
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