Viral conjunctivitis: see symptoms and forms of transmission


What is Viral Conjunctivitis?

The conjunctivitis Viral is inflammation of the conjunctiva (white of the eye) and its main causative agent is the adenovirus. The disease is highly contagious, more frequent in the summer and its main symptoms are itchiness and red eye.

About 95% of conjunctivitis cases are caused by some virus, but because adenovirus is the main cause, viral conjunctivitis can also be called Epidemic Keratoconjunctivitis. The disease can also be caused by several other types of viruses, such as herpes (HSV), chickenpox (VZV) or even HIV .

Usually, the first signs of conjunctivitis appear within 48 hours after the causative agent is installed in the person’s body.

Virus incubation time

Normally, the incubation time of the virus in our organism takes from 1 to 4 days, a period in which the person is already susceptible to transmission, but without any symptoms. It is advisable that in these first 4 days, the person remains isolated at home so as not to transmit the virus to other people.

After this incubation period, the first symptoms begin to appear and remain for 5 to 15 days.

What are the risk groups?

All people are liable to develop some type of conjunctivitis throughout their lives. But some groups stand out because they are always in contact with some allergenic agents. Are they:

  • People who already have a history of allergies;
  • People who have had a respiratory problem recently;
  • Diabetic people, as the disease weakens their immune system;
  • People taking corticosteroids, which also weaken the immune system;
  • Newborns or elderly, as their eyes are extremely fragile and sensitive to heat, light, cold, smoke and pathogenic germs.

How does the transmission take place?

Conjunctivitis caused by bacteria or viruses has a high level of transmission and it occurs through contact with the secretion caused by the disease and also by contaminated objects. Check below some forms of transmission of conjunctivitis:

  • Wear makeup of the person infected with the virus (or bacteria);
  • Use the same towel or sleep with the same pillow as the infected person;
  • Sharing glasses or contact lenses;
  • Hugs and kisses;
  • In the case of viral conjunctivitis, transmission can also occur through sneezing and coughing.

Contrary to what many people think, the disease is not transmitted by air, however, it must be borne in mind that, even if the disease is limited to the eyes, the virus is present in any part of the infected person’s body, such as on the face or in the eyes. hands. Therefore, avoiding the presence in places that have a high number of people is very important.

Transmission of the disease can occur for as long as the symptoms last, even if you are already on treatment.

What are the symptoms?

The main symptom of viral conjunctivitis is increased secretion from the eyes, which may be white or yellow in color. Because it becomes much thicker than normal, it ends up causing, many times, the difficulty in opening your eyes when you wake up.

In addition to this symptom, others may manifest themselves, such as:

  • Redness of the eyes;
  • Itching and pain in the eyes;
  • Feeling of sand in the eyes;
  • Photophobia (hypersensitivity to light);
  • Nasal discharge;
  • Swelling in the eyelids;
  • Blurry vision.

When the inflammation of viral conjunctivitis is very intense, an inflammatory membrane forms on the inside of the eyelids and it can only be removed by a specialist. If the condition is not treated correctly, the membrane can develop into scarring in the cornea and can decrease vision. After its withdrawal, corticosteroid drops are prescribed so that it does not form again afterwards.

Most symptoms start in only one eye, and after 2 or 3 days, transmission is made to the other eye.

What is the diagnosis?

The doctor you should go to in cases of suspected conjunctivitis is the ophthalmologist, who specializes in eye diseases. During the consultation, he will examine your eyes and ask about the symptoms you have been experiencing. In addition, explaining to him how the illness started will help him find out what type of conjunctivitis you have contracted and what type of treatment you should have.

How is the treatment for Viral Conjunctivitis?

Because it is self-limiting, conjunctivitis heals itself after a week or two, without the need for specific treatment. However, to help improve the symptoms presented, it is recommended to make compresses on the eyelids often with cold saline or, even with products based on chamomile , due to its anti-inflammatory effect.

Do not forget that, as with any disease, medical follow-up for conjunctivitis is extremely important, since there is more than one type, the prescription of treatment may be different for each case.

Medicines used for treatment

  • –  Artificial tears 4 to 8 times a day for 1 to 3 weeks.
  • Vasoconstrictors and topical antihistamines 4 times a day, for severe itching.
  • –  Topical steroids for pseudomembranes and subeptelial infiltrates.
  • –  Topical antiviral agents for HSV infection.
  • –  Oral acyclovir for infection caused by VZV.


NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.

Are there any complications from Conjunctivitis?

If the disease is not treated as soon as possible and correctly, some complications may arise over time, as explained below.

Infectious conjunctivitis

If the conjunctivitis is infectious, a series of complications can appear, such as:

  • Meningitis;
  • Cellulitis;
  • Septicemia;
  • Otitis media.


  • If conjunctivitis is not treated soon in newborns less than 28 days old, the disease can turn into a serious and progressive infection in the child’s eyes, which can lead to blindness.
  • In cases of conjunctivitis caused by chlamydia, one in five babies develop pneumonia, which can be fatal in some cases.


Some types of conjunctivitis can cause a condition called keratitis , a type of inflammation of the cornea. Keratitis can be painful and sometimes causes ulcers in the region. If these ulcers are not treated correctly, they can permanently compromise your vision.

How to prevent me?

As much as there is no correct and totally effective form of prevention, some measures reduce the risk of contracting conjunctivitis. Are they:

  • When swimming in a pool, always use your swimming goggles, as the chlorine present in the water can irritate the eye and make it more sensitive.
  • Do not use other people’s towels and makeup, as this can be a means of transmitting bacteria and viruses.
  • Keep the lining of your eyes well hydrated with saline or artificial tears.
  • It is advisable to wash your hands thoroughly with alcohol or disinfectant solutions frequently. If you don’t have these products at home, soap and water are enough.

In addition, sharing this information can be of great help to anyone who is, or knows someone who is, with symptoms of conjunctivitis. 😉