Did you know viruses can cause an angry, red eye? Viral conjunctivitis is a type of pink eye that is highly contagious, because airborne viruses can be spread through sneezing and coughing. If you’ve had an upper respiratory infection, such as the measles, the flu, or the common cold, you are more susceptible to viral conjunctivitis.
Viral conjunctivitis usually produces a watery discharge. Typically the infection starts in one eye and quickly spreads to the other eye.
Unlike with bacterial infections, antibiotics will not work against viruses. No eye drops or ointments are effective against the common viruses that cause viral conjunctivitis. But viral conjunctivitis is self-limited, which means it will go away by itself after a short time. Often, cold compresses and anti-inflammatory eye drops are prescribed.
Typically with viral conjunctivitis, the third through the fifth days are the worst. After that, eyes begin to improve on their own.