Also known as: pink eye, viral conjunctivitis, bacterial conjunctivitis, irritant conjunctivitis, allergic conjunctivitis


At The London Clinic we provide a private conjunctivitis treatment service. One of our world renowned eye specialists will see you at our state-of-the-art eye centre near Harley Street. Why wait? Start your treatment journey today. 

What is conjunctivitis?

At The London Clinic we offer the latest treatments for conjunctivitis, sometimes called pink eye. Conjunctivitis causes redness and inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin layer that covers the front of the eye.

Symptoms of conjunctivitis include: 

  • Pink or red eyes 
  • Irritated eyes that burn or feel gritty
  • Discharge that crusts the eyelids

There are four main types of conjunctivitis:

  • Bacterial conjunctivitis: which produces a greenish discharge often in both eyes
  • Viral conjunctivitis: which produces a lighter, more watery discharge usually in one eye
  • Allergic conjunctivitis: which produces teary, sore eyes along with a stuffy, itchy nose
  • Irritant conjunctivitis: which is due to irritants such as grit, smoke or an eyelash

Pain is a sign of something potentially more serious such as keratitis and needs immediate attention from a doctor or specialist.

During your visit to our eye centre one of our highly experienced eye specialists will examine your eyes and prescribe the most effective treatment for you.

What causes conjunctivitis? 

Conjunctivitis is an extremely common condition that affects adults, children and babies. It usually affects one eye first then after a short while affects both eyes. 

Bacterial and viral conjunctivitis are very contagious and can spread easily from person to person. 

Bacteria that can cause conjunctivitis include:

  • Staphylococcus spp
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Haemophilus influenzae
  • Moraxella catarrhalis
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae
  • Chlamydia trachomatis

Viral conjunctivitis is commonly due to an adenovirus infection, which can also cause fever and a sore throat. Some types of adenovirus can cause keratitis, a more serious condition where the cornea of your eye becomes inflamed. 

Viruses that can cause conjunctivitis include:

  • Herpes simplex
  • Herpes zoster
  • Molloscum contagiosum (poxvirus)

Sometimes parasites such as lice can infect the eyelashes causing conjunctivitis. People on immunosuppressant therapy after an organ transplant, or to treat cancer or AIDS, are more likely to get viral conjunctivitis.

Allergic conjunctivitis isn’t contagious but is an response to allergens in the environment such as:

  • Pollen
  • Dust mites
  • Animal hair
  • Chemicals 
  • Cosmetics

If you have hay fever or there’s a family history of allergies you may be more susceptible to allergic conjunctivitis.

How is conjunctivitis diagnosed?

Your ophthalmologist will examine your eyes and check the eye using a slit-lamp which consists of a microscope and beam of light to examine the conjunctiva or your eye. 

They may put a yellow dye called fluorescein into your eye that allows them to check for any damage.

They will ask you about your general health particularly in relation to allergies or any medications you’re taking such as immunosuppressants.

How is conjunctivitis treated at The London Clinic?

Depending on the type of conjunctivitis you have your treatment may include: 

  • Antibiotic eye drops (for bacterial conjunctivitis)
  • Antihistamines (for allergic conjunctivitis)
  • Eye lubricant drops
  • Regular cleansing of the affected eyes

In most cases conjunctivitis will resolve after a couple of weeks, but you should alert your doctor or specialist if you develop symptoms such as pain, sensitivity to light or disturbed vision. 

Untreated allergic conjunctivitis can lead to scarring in the eye. Infective (bacterial or viral) conjunctivitis in rare cases can spread to other areas of the body leading to secondary conditions like meningitis.

Home care for conjunctivitis should include:

  • Discontinuing contact lens wear until all signs of inflammation have gone
  • Clean the eyes with cotton wool and boiled, cooled water
  • Avoid rubbing your eyes
  • Applying a cool compress and using lubricant eye drops

Your specialist will give you specific treatment to resolve the underlying cause as well as reduce symptoms and prevent inflammation reaching the cornea.

How long does it take to recover from conjunctivitis? 

Depending on your symptoms and the type of conjunctivitis and treatment you have, you should find your conjunctivitis clears up in around two weeks. In most cases conjunctivitis poses no serious threat and complications of conjunctivitis are rare.

Our specialist team at The London Clinic eye centre are always on hand to support you if you have any concerns.


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