Conjunctivitis is a very common eye disease with various causes.

What is conjunctivitis?

Conjunctivitis, also called red eye, is an inflammation of the conjunctiva (the thin layer of tissue that covers the white surface of the eye and the inner surface of the eyelids). It is a common eye disease especially in children and may affect one or both eyes.

Conjunctivitis symptoms and causes

Symptoms may include eye redness, excessive watering, itchy burning eyes, discharge, blurred vision and increased sensitivity to light. Conjunctivitis can be caused by a viral or bacterial infection, or can be the result of an allergic reaction1.

Viral conjunctivitis

As many as 90% of the viral conjunctivitis cases may be caused by adenovirus2. Adenoviral conjunctivitis is highly contagious (up to 50% transmission rate3). Many cases of acute conjunctivitis result in a prescription for antibiotics, even in viral cases when antibiotics are not necessary. Inappropriate antibiotic use may increase adverse effects, promote resistance and add avoidable costs to the healthcare system.


  1. Stenson S, Newman R, Fedukowics H. Laboratory studies in acute conjunctivitis. Arch Ophthalmol 1982; 100:1275-77
  2. O’Brien TP, Jeng BH, McDonald M, et al. Acute conjunctivitis: truth and misconceptions. Curr Med Res Opin. 2009; 25(8):1953-61
  3. Kaufman HE. Adenovirus advances: new diagnostic and therapeutic options. Curr Opin Ophthalmol 2011; 22:290-293

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