Viral conjunctivitis treatment  

With viral conjunctivitis, symptoms can last from one to two weeks and then will typically disappear on their own. Discomfort can be minimized with cool compresses applied to the eye and cool artificial tears. This is typically the only treatment that is necessary. Severe cases can benefit from anti-inflammatory drops that should only be prescribed by an ophthalmologist.

Man receiving eyedropsBacterial conjunctivitis treatment  

For bacterial conjunctivitis, your Eye M.D. will typically prescribe antibiotic eye drops to treat the infection. Occasionally it is difficult to distinguish bacterial from viral conjunctivitis, and in this case drops will likely be prescribed.

Allergic conjunctivitis treatment

For allergic conjunctivitis, treatment often includes applying cool compresses to the eyes and using allergy eyedrops and artificial tears that have been cooled in the refrigerator.

Practicing good hygiene can help prevent the spread of infectious conjunctivitis. You should:

  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid touching your eyes with your hands.
  • Avoid reusing towels, washcloths, handkerchiefs and tissues to wipe your face and eyes.
  • Change your pillowcase frequently.
  • Replace your eye cosmetics regularly with new ones, and do not share them with other people.
  • Always clean your contact lenses properly. In the case of disposable contacts, follow the instructions on the box and dispose when advised.

Pink eye remedies

A compress applied to your closed eyelids can relieve some of the discomfort of pink eye. To make a compress, soak in water then wring out a clean, lint-free cloth. If you have conjunctivitis in one eye only, don't use the same cloth on both eyes so you won't spread the infection from one eye to the other.   

Over-the-counter lubricating eyedrops (artificial tears) may also provide relief from pink eye symptoms. Patients with allergies will benefit from the drops being refrigerated.

What Every Parent Should Know About "Pink Eye"

The American Academy of Ophthalmology wants to teach parents and educators how to prevent the spread of conjunctivitis in the classroom.

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Reviewed by Dr. Elena Jiménez on Feb. 1, 2014

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