General Health

4 Warning Signs of Conjunctivitis: Know When To Consult A Doctor

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By Apollo 24|7, Published on- 03 August 2023, Updated on - 08 August 2023

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Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin membrane that covers the white part of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids. It can be caused by viruses, bacteria, allergies or exposure to irritants such as chemicals. Conjunctivitis can occur in people of all ages and can be easily transmitted from person to person through direct contact or by sharing contaminated items. By being aware of the concerning signs, you can take appropriate measures to prevent its transmission and seek medical attention when necessary.

Types of Conjunctivitis

The different types of conjunctivitis are usually distinguished by their causes:

  • Viral conjunctivitis: This is the most common form of conjunctivitis and is highly contagious. It is usually caused by a virus that results in a common cold or flu.
  • Bacterial conjunctivitis: This type of conjunctivitis is caused by exposure to bacteria and is also contagious.
  • Allergic conjunctivitis: This form of conjunctivitis occurs when your eyes come into contact with allergens such as pollen, pet dander or dust mites.
  • Chemical conjunctivitis: Exposure to irritating substances like smoke, chlorine in swimming pools or certain chemicals can lead to chemical conjunctivitis.

Common Symptoms of Conjunctivitis

Being aware of the following common symptoms of conjunctivitis can help you identify and seek appropriate treatment in a timely manner:

  • Redness and irritation
  • Watery or discharge from the eyes
  • Itching or burning sensation
  • Sensitivity to light (photophobia)
  • Swelling or puffiness around the eyes
  • Crusty eyelashes upon waking up
  • Blurred vision or eye pain

Remember, these symptoms can vary depending on the type of conjunctivitis you have. It is essential to consult with an eye care professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

When to Consult A Doctor?

Although most cases of conjunctivitis can be managed at home, there are certain circumstances when it is crucial to seek medical attention. The following symptoms and situations warrant a visit to your healthcare provider:

1. Severe Pain or Significant Discomfort

If you experience intense pain in your eyes or find it difficult to open them due to discomfort, it is essential to consult a medical professional. Severe pain can indicate a more serious underlying condition.

2. Vision Changes or Loss of Vision

Any sudden changes in your vision, such as blurriness, double vision or loss of vision, should not be ignored. This can occur when the infection spreads to the cornea, the clear tissue covering the front of the eye. Corneal involvement can lead to inflammation, scarring and even permanent damage if left untreated.

Another reason for blurred vision can be keratitis. Keratitis is an infection of the cornea that can cause pain, redness and blurred vision. This condition requires immediate medical attention to prevent further complications and preserve vision.

3. Symptoms Persisting for More Than a Week

Although mild cases of conjunctivitis typically resolve within a week, if your symptoms persist or worsen beyond this timeframe, it is advisable to consult a doctor. Prolonged symptoms might indicate a more stubborn infection or an underlying health issue.

4. Presence of Other Medical Conditions or Risk Factors

If you have other medical conditions such as diabetes, autoimmune disorders or a weakened immune system, you should seek medical attention promptly.

Treatment for Conjunctivitis

The treatment options for conjunctivitis depend on the type of conjunctivitis you have. Here are some common treatment options:

1. Bacterial Conjunctivitis

  • Antibiotic eye drops or ointments are typically prescribed to alleviate the symptoms.
  • It is important to complete the full course of treatment to prevent recurrence.

2. Viral Conjunctivitis

  • Antiviral medications may be prescribed if the infection is severe.
  • Lubricating eye drops can help alleviate symptoms such as redness and discomfort.

3. Allergic Conjunctivitis

  • Avoiding allergens is key.
  • Antihistamine eye drops or oral medications can provide relief.
  • Cold compresses can reduce inflammation and soothe the eyes.

4. Chemical Conjunctivitis

  • Flush the eyes with clean water frequently.
  • Artificial tears can help relieve symptoms.

Prevention of Conjunctivitis

By following these simple steps, you can significantly reduce your risk of contracting and spreading conjunctivitis:

1. Practise Proper Hand Hygiene

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
  • Use hand sanitisers containing at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available.

2. Avoid Touching or Rubbing Your Eyes

  • Touching your eyes with unwashed hands can introduce bacteria or viruses into the eye, increasing the risk of conjunctivitis.

3. Avoid Sharing Personal Items Related to Eye Care

  • Do not share towels, cosmetics, contact lens solution or eye makeup with others.
  • Sharing these items can lead to the transmission of bacteria or viruses that cause conjunctivitis.

4. Using Clean Towels and Tissues for Cleaning the Face and Eyes

  • Use a clean towel or tissue to wipe your face and eyes.
  • Dirty towels or tissues can harbour bacteria or viruses that can cause conjunctivitis.

Home Remedies for Conjunctivitis Relief

If you are experiencing the symptoms of conjunctivitis, there are several home remedies and self-care tips that can help alleviate the discomfort and promote faster healing.

1. Warm Compresses: Applying warm compresses to the affected eyes can provide relief from itching and reduce inflammation. Simply soak a clean washcloth in warm water, wring out the excess moisture and gently place it over your closed eyes for 5-10 minutes. Repeat this several times a day as needed.

2. Lubricating Eye Drops: Over-the-counter lubricating eye drops can help soothe dryness and irritation caused by conjunctivitis. Look for artificial tears or eye drops specifically formulated for redness relief. Follow the instructions on the package for proper usage and dosage.

3. Avoid Contact Lenses: During the infection, it is advisable to avoid wearing contact lenses as they can worsen the condition and prolong healing. Switch to wearing glasses until your eyes have fully recovered.

4. Maintain Good Eye Health: Taking care of your overall eye health is crucial in preventing conjunctivitis and reducing its severity if it does occur. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Avoid touching or rubbing your eyes and wash your hands before touching your eyes.
  • Use clean towels, pillowcases and eye makeup brushes to prevent contamination.
  • Avoid sharing personal items like towels or eye drops with others.

Remember that although home remedies and self-care tips can provide temporary relief, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.


Recognising the symptoms of conjunctivitis is crucial for early intervention and appropriate management. Some key symptoms to watch out for include redness in the white part of the eye, itching or burning sensation, excessive tearing and discharge that may form a crust overnight. By staying informed about conjunctivitis and its management, you can protect your eye health and promote a faster recovery if you do experience symptoms. If you suspect you have conjunctivitis, it is always best to consult with a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Consult Apollo’s Expert Ophthalmologists


Q. Is conjunctivitis contagious?

Yes, conjunctivitis can be highly contagious, especially if it is caused by a viral or bacterial infection.

Q. How long does conjunctivitis last?

The duration of conjunctivitis can vary depending on the cause. Viral conjunctivitis usually lasts for about 1-2 weeks, whereas bacterial conjunctivitis may persist for 2-4 weeks if left untreated.

Q. Can I wear contact lenses if I have conjunctivitis?

It is advisable to avoid wearing contact lenses when you have conjunctivitis, as it can worsen the condition and prolong the healing process.

Q. Should I see a doctor for conjunctivitis?

If you experience severe symptoms such as intense pain, blurred vision or persistent redness and discharge, it is recommended to consult a doctor for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Q. Can I use over-the-counter eye drops for conjunctivitis?

Although over-the-counter eye drops may provide temporary relief for mild cases of conjunctivitis, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.




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