Infectious conjunctivitis


Infectious conjunctivitis


Conjunctivitis means inflammation of the conjunctiva.



The conjunctiva is the thin covering (like a very thin skin) that covers the white part of the eyes and the inside of the eyelids.



Infective conjunctivitis usually spreads to both eyes. The whites of the eyes look inflamed, and red or pink.

The eyes may feel gritty and may water more than usual.

Some mild soreness may develop, but the condition is not usually very painful.

The eyelids may become swollen. They are often stuck together with gluey material (discharge) after a sleep.

Vision is not normally affected. You may get some blurring of vision due to discharge at the front of the eye. However, this clears with blinking.

Source : Patient



Studies where eye secretions cultures were carried out show that the origin is bacterial conjunctivitis in 40% of cases, viral in 36% and 24% of other origin (including allergic) in adults while at the child is in 78% of cases bacterial, 13% viral and allergic 2%.

Translated from HUG 



The most common types of bacteria that cause bacterial conjunctivitis include Staphylococcus aureus, Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Bacterial conjunctivitis usually produces a thick eye discharge or pus and can affect one or both eyes.

Source : All About Vision



Most conjunctival infections are not serious, do not harm the eye, and clear in a few days. However, some infections such as herpes or chlamydia persist for longer than usual, are more serious, and need special treatment. Most serious eye infections cause significant pain and many also affect vision. Some other conditions, including allergic conjunctivitis can appear similar to infective conjunctivitis initially. This makes it particularly important that you go back to your doctor if things get worse or if they do not settle as expected.

Source : Patient



Maintaining proper hygiene such as frequent hand washing.



  • Review physical symptoms
  • If Necessary, taking a sample of the conjunctiva to determine the causative organisms. 



Not treating - this is a common option for mild or moderate infections. Your tears contain chemicals that fight off germs (bacteria). Without treatment, most cases of infective conjunctivitis clear on their own within 1-2 weeks. Often they clear within 2-5 days. If symptoms get worse then see a doctor to check your eye and to see if you need treatment.

Bathing the eyes - using cool clean water, this may be soothing.

Lubricant eye drops - these may reduce eye discomfort. They are available over the counter, as well as on prescription.

Antibiotic preparations

These may be prescribed. This might be:

  • An eye drop such as chloramphenicol.
  • Eye ointment such as chloramphenicol or fusidic acid (actually an oily drop, halfway between an ointment and a drop).

Note: treatment using antibiotic preparations tends to be for more severe cases. It is also used for those cases not clearing on their own. (Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, as some eye drops may not be suitable.) 

Source : Patient



An eye with viral conjunctivitis

An eye with viral conjunctivitis

SourceBy Joyhill09 [GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons


An eye with bacterial conjunctivitis

Swollen eye with conjunctivitis

Source : Tanalai at English Wikipedia [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons  


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