Conjunctivitis or Pinkeye/Redeye


Conjunctvitis eyeIt is also called Madras Eye, Bombay Eye etc., in India. The eyes may be watery and have itchy or other uncomfortable sensations in the eye. The affected person may feel irritation in the eye as if some foreign body is lodged in it.. The eyes become more sensitive to light and the eyelids may be slightly swollen. The white of the eye (sclera) becomes red or pink and there will be sticky discharge that usually clogs the eyelashes.

Blepharitis is different from conjunctivitis although showing similar in symptoms. Here the edges of the eyelids (the base of the eyelashes)  become red and inflamed and may be swollen; and may be more of a chronic nature. For more details including treatment of this infection you may visit NHS Choices.

Types of conjunctivitis

There are viral, bacterial, allergic and chemically induced types. The viral and bacterial types are infectious and contagious and would last for a week or more; and will subside without causing any lasting bad effects if precautionary measures are taken. The allergic and chemically induced varieties would go away along with the removal of the causes.

Transmission and spread of infective conjunctivitis

Transmission through contaminated finger is the most common mode. Other common modes of transmission include wiping the eyes with contaminated clothes. In tropical countries the tiny flies, which thrive in cowsheds, often land on the moist fringes of the eyes and may transmit the infection from person to person.

The usual sequences of infection go like this:

1. You touch your infected eye > shake hands with another person > that person puts his/her fingers into own healthy eye > get the infection

2. You  touch your infected eye > touch items such as door handle, car/bus handles and holding bar, computer keyboard, etc > another person touches/holds any of the items you touched > touches his/her healthy eyes > get the infection.


  1. Avoid the habit of touching your eyes. 
  2. Handshake is an easy way to receive or pass on many contagious diseases including this one. Therefore do not touch your eyes or any other part of your body with your possibly contaminated hands.
  3. Avoid using common towels.
  4. Wash your hands when you reach your office or return home before touching anyone or handling anything including the computer keyboard.


Consult your family doctor. Both viral and bacterial conjunctivitis are highly contagious and are quite bothersome. Conjunctivitis will leave within a week or two without leaving any bad side effects. However, you should take some basic measures to nurse the infection and also make sure that you do not pass it on to others. For this purpose you may do the following.

Wash your hands often with soap and water. Refrain from touching or rubbing your eyes. Wash your eyes often. Using water mixed with pure medical grade boric acid has been found effective by many people. Do not use the same kerchief, towel or pillow cover the second time without washing/disinfecting it. Wash your hands after applying any eye drops, which your doctor may prescribe. Avoid sharing articles like towels, blankets and pillowcases. Keep your specs clean and avoid contact lenses during the period of infection. Do not use a swimming pool when you have conjunctivitis. For a detailed listing of precautionary measures click here.  

Other common contagious diseases dealt with in this website are:

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