What is Conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis is a condition to describe the swelling of the conjunctiva. While conjunctiva is the thin, filmy membrane covering the inside of the eyelids, the white part of the eye is called the sclera. The condition is also called "pink eye." Conjunctiva has tiny blood vessels. It produces mucus that keeps the eye's surface moist. When the conjunctiva becomes swollen, blood vessels become larger that make the eyes red.

Types of Conjunctivitis
Viral conjunctivitis

The virus responsible for common cold causes this type of conjunctivitis. It is highly contagious. The symptoms can last from few days to a couple of weeks. It disappears on its own. It is not curable through antibiotic eye drops.

Bacterial conjunctivitis

Caused by bacterial infections, it causes red eye(s) along with a lot of pus. People suffering from bacterial conjunctivitis find it difficult to open eyelids on awakening. They remain glued. Antibiotic eye drops are prescribed to get rid of this kind of pink eye.

Allergic conjunctivitis

It is caused when the body reacts to an allergen such as pollen or pet dander. Itching is the primary symptom. Others include tearing, burning, puffy eyelids and redness of the conjunctiva. Cool compresses, artificial tears and anti-allergy eye drops are recommended to heal the situation. However, it is not contagious.

Conjunctivitis Causes

The common causes of conjunctivitis are:

  • Allergies
  • Environmental irritants
  • Bacterial and viral infections
Pink Eye Symptoms

The symptoms of pink eye depend on its type. If caused by bacterial infection, eyes will be very red. The eyelids will stick together along with discharge of heavy greenish pus. It can infect both the eyes.

Viral conjunctivitis causes eyes to be very red and swollen. There is watery discharge that may contain strands of mucus. While viral pink eye may infect only one eye, it may spread to the other. If allergies cause pink eyes, the symptoms are similar to viral conjunctivitis. Eyes will be itchy, red and teary. One can also experience a running or itchy nose.

Though pink eye is typically short-lived, which can be cured with eye drops if symptoms continue for long, it is better to consult an ophthalmologist. Many diseases cause red eye and some of them can even lead to blindness.

Avoid using steroid drops for this condition, especially when not supervised by an ophthalmologist.


Your doctor will examine your eyes to find out about the problem. Tell your doctor whether the symptoms appeared suddenly or gradually. In some cases, additional tests are required. Your doctor may also collect a sample by numbing your eyes and swabbing its surface. This will help him/her find out whether the infection is caused by virus or bacteria.

Conjunctivitis Treatment

Treatment depends on the type of pink eye you have.

Treatment for viral conjunctivitis

Cool compresses and artificial tears are used to cure viral pink eye. In severe cases, anti-inflammatory drops are helpful.

Treatment for bacterial conjunctivitis

To treat this conjunctivitis, doctors prescribe antibiotic eye drops.

Treatment of allergic conjunctivitis

Cool compresses to eyes are used to treat allergic conjunctivitis. Doctors may also prescribe artificial tears cooled in refrigerators or allergy eye drops to treat this type of pink eye.

Good hygiene can help prevent the spread of conjunctivitis.

i4vision, a top eye care clinic in Kolkata, receives many patients suffering from the condition. Dr Somdutt Prasad, one of the best retinal specialists and a noted eye surgeon in Kolkata, prescribes the right medication that ensures quick healing of the condition.