Also known as “Pink eye” is a common condition that causes redness and inflammation of the thin layer that covers the front of the eye i.e. the conjunctiva. Symptoms include mild pain with redness of eyes, discharge, itching, and stickiness of lashes on waking up in the morning. Normally conjunctivitis takes around 2-3 weeks to completely subside, depending on the severity.


Bacterial conjunctivitis: Highly contagious. Rapid onset of redness, lid swelling and mucopurulent discharge. Typically starts in one eye and then spreads to the other eye in 2-5 days duration.

Viral conjunctivitis: Often associated with an infection of the respiratory tract, common cold or sore throat. Associated with watery discharge, and mild itching. Highly contagious in nature.

Allergic conjunctivitis: Presents with redness of eyes, watering and severe itching. Common allergens include pollen from flowers and dust. This type of conjunctivitis is NOT contagious.


Treatment in cases of bacterial conjunctivitis includes topical antibiotic eye drops and antibiotic eye ointment at bedtime.

Treatment in cases of viral conjunctivitis includes liberal amounts of lubricating eye drops.

Treatment in allergic conjunctivitis includes cold compresses to eyes, antihistaminic and mast cell stabilizer eye drops, lubricants, and topical steroids in cases of severe allergic conjunctivitis.


Avoid touching or rubbing the infected eye.

Avoid use of eye makeup and stop using contact lenses.

Frequently wash hands with soap and warm water

Avoid sharing articles like face towels and pillows or eye makeup like eyeliners with an infected person.


Dr. Rachna Vinaya Kumar, MBBS, MS, FAICO, FICO

Consultant Paediatric Ophthalmologist and Squint specialist, Apollo Hospitals, Hyderabad