Jump to Topics

Pink eye? Blame infections (or other people)

Pink eye? Blame infections (or other people)

Although itchy, red eyes are common, they may be signs of conjunctivitis. Experts point out the differences and precautions

Conjunctivitis, the pink eye

Red, itchy, or continuously watering eyes is a commonly seen symptoms in those who have allergies or the common cold. However, that’s a typical symptom of conjunctivitis too. Commonly known as pink eye, conjunctivitis is a contagious eye infection that spreads upon direct contact with the infectious discharge from the eyes.

Ria Patrick, a 24-year-old social media manager from Bengaluru, recalls how her entire family contracted conjunctivitis from her brother. “We dismissed his red and watery eyes as pollen allergy, so it spread to the rest of us probably when he came into direct contact with us after he rubbed his eyes,” says Ria. She saw a continuous discharge of fluid from her eyes which had turned red and often burned. “My eyelids would get stuck when I woke up in the morning,” she recalls.

Measles outbreak raises concerns
Chickenpox: managing the symptoms
Elephantiasis: A burden at every step?
Maggot infestation: when worms invade the body

Symptoms of conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis can either be a viral or bacterial infection. While itching in the eyes is a common symptom, viral and bacterial conjunctivitis differ in terms of discharge, says Dr Triveni V, a senior consultant and general ophthalmology and cataract surgeon at Dr Agarwal Eye Hospital, Chennai. In viral conjunctivitis, a watery discharge is observed whereas, in bacterial conjunctivitis, there is the formation of pus.

Dr Arun Samprathi, a pediatric ophthalmologist and medical director of Samprathi Eye Hospital & Squint Centre, Bengaluru, says that the pain is relatively less in the bacterial infection and the eyes tend to get stuck, especially while waking up. “When this happens, clean your eyes thoroughly with water,” he says, adding that the severity and symptoms of this condition are similar for both adults and children.

Other symptoms in both types include swelling of the eyelids, pain, and foreign body sensation (feeling like something is rubbing against the eyes while blinking).

“Among the different types of conjunctivitis, the one caused by the adenovirus spreads rapidly,” says Dr Triveni. She explains that adenovirus can invite other respiratory symptoms along with conjunctivitis “Patients do sometimes suffer from a sore throat, fever, runny nose, diarrhoea when they contract the conjunctivitis infection; however, this may not be applicable to everyone and it only happens in rare cases,” she said.

Adenovirus usually grows and spreads at a rapid rate in summer which leads to a lot of people contracting pink eye (also known as Madras eye). But Dr Triveni adds that sometimes, a drop in temperature can also help the virus to spread.

Conjunctivitis in children 

“Conjunctivitis is prone to spreading faster among children than adults, as they often keep touching surfaces and objects that are unclean and later rub their eyes. So, maintaining hygiene is important for them,” says Dr Samprathi. He adds that since children tend to have higher immunity than adults, they recover faster; but this depends on what type of conjunctivitis they contract.

“Bacterial conjunctivitis usually takes three to four days to clear up if the right antibiotic drops are used,” Dr Samprathi explains. “A child with a healthy immune system may take four to five days to recover from viral conjunctivitis; a weakened immune system might prolong the infection for a month.”


The following precautions can help prevent the spread of this infection from an infected person:

  • Do not share the same towels, clothes, pillows, handkerchiefs, etc.  Wash them separately.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after coming in contact with an infected person
  • Caution children against touching their eyes without washing their hands

Share Your Experience/Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation is an emergency lifesaving procedure performed when the heart stops beating. According to American Heart Association, immediate CPR can double or triple chances of survival after cardiac arrest. Keeping the blood flow active, even partially, extends the opportunity for a successful resuscitation once trained medical staff arrive on site. It is an important lifesaving first-aid tool that can be performed by anyone.
A new lifestyle adaptation seems to be about breaking a set of habits that are not as innocuous as they are believed to be
Chocolates have been credited for providing better heart health. According to a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology in 2020, eating chocolate at least once a week helps reduce the risk of heart disease. The study says that eating chocolate more than once a week was associated with an eight per cent decreased risk of coronary artery disease. But how does one choose a good dark chocolate? Watch to find out.




Opt-in To Our Daily Newsletter

* Please check your Spam folder for the Opt-in confirmation mail
We use cookies to customize your user experience, view our policy here

Your feedback has been submitted successfully.

The Happiest Health team will reach out to you at the earliest