Viral conjunctivitis treatment options


The cases of viral conjunctivitis and pink are mostly mild and at times does not even necessitate medical care. However, in case of complications its best to seek help from Best Eye specialist in Lahore. Conjunctivitis is the inflammation, mostly secondary to the infection of the conjunctiva, i.e. the transparent membrane covering the eye. Inflammation of the small blood vessels covering the eye give a pink tinge to the eye. 

What is the cause of viral conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis can occur secondary to allergies, chemicals, bacterial infection, fungal infection and viral infection. 

For viral conjunctivitis, the common organism involved is adenovirus. Adenoviruses are contagious microbes associated with common cold. Exposure to the sneezing and coughing of someone who has an upper respiratory infection causes the virus to come in contact with the conjunctiva. 

It can also occur as the virus spreads from the mucous membranes of the patient himself. Since the tears are drained by the nasolacrimal duct, connected to the nose, actions like forceful blowing can cause the virus to move from the respiratory system to the eyes. 

Other viruses involved include: varicella-zoster virus, herpes simplex virus, and even viruses from the coronavirus family and molluscum contagiosum.  

What are the risk factors for viral conjunctivitis?

Viral conjunctivitis can be acquired from someone who has an active viral infection as it’s highly contagious. The risk is also higher in contact lens wearers, especially the extended wear type. The risk is also higher if one wears unclean contact lenses or lenses belonging to someone else.  

What are the symptoms of viral conjunctivitis?

Patients with adenoviral conjunctivitis often give history of recent exposure to someone with pink eye, or with cold. The eye infection may be unilateral, but can also be bilateral. The patient may also complain of itchy eyes, watery discharge, gritting sensation in the eye and photophobia. The latter is associated with corneal involvement along with the conjunctivitis. 

Varicella-zoster viral (VZV) infections of the eye may occur in all ages but are more predominant in young children. The presentation is of a watery eye, with irritation and redness, and concomitant involvement of the eyelid. 

When latent VZV is reactivated, it results in herpes zoster ophthalmicus. There is prodrome of fever, nausea, vomiting, malaise, skin lesions and severe ocular pain. Involvement of the conjunctiva results in serous or mucopurulent discharge as well. 

How to treat viral conjunctivitis?

Viral conjunctivitis is mostly self-limiting, barring complications. The infection clears up within a couple of weeks without treatment or long-term consequences.  

Therapy is not always necessary for viral conjunctivitis but there are times that warrant seeking medical care. Healthcare should be sought if there is pain in the eyes, and sensitivity to light that does not improve. People with weak immune system, such as those with chronic diabetes, cancer or HIV should also get timely treatment. 

The goal of treatment is to increase the comfort of the patient, reduce inflammation, lessen the course of infection and prevent the spread in case of unilateral infection. 

For adenovirus, the treatment is supportive, and patients can use cold compresses and lubricants for alleviating the discomfort. For more serious cases, topical astringent or antibiotics can be used to prevent superinfection with bacteria. Topical antiviral agents like ganciclovir, acyclovir, valacyclovir are used for topical herpes zoster infection. These drugs should be used only after consultation with Best Eye specialist in Karachi