Conjunctivitis, also known as red eye, is a common eye infection which can be extremely contagious. It causes inflammation and redness of the layer of cells which cover the front of the eye (hence the name red eye). Usually it affects both eyes but symptoms may start in one eye first.

Young children and the elderly are more at risk of developing conjunctivitis, as well as those with diabetes or an immune infection. If you think you have the condition, don’t delay getting help, you can speak to a pharmacist or GP.


The symptoms of conjunctivitis are well recognised:

  • Noticeable redness in the eye
  • A build-up of sticky mucus or discharge, often with a yellow tint
  • Irritation or a feeling of something in your eye when you blink
  • Stinging or burning sensation in the eye
  • Itchy eyes


There are three different types of conjunctivitis with different causes: bacterial, viral or allergic. Often it is the cause of a viral or bacterial infection, which is known as infective conjunctivitis. If you are diagnosed with this type of conjunctivitis you should be careful to try and not pass it on to others.

The condition can also be caused by an allergy to pollen or dust, or an irritant such as chlorine or shampoo – these are described as allergic conjunctivitis.

Treating conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis often clears up on its own within a couple of weeks, however, if you think you might need medical treatment, our doctors can identify the type of conjunctivitis you are suffering from, and recommend the best course of treatment.

Allergic conjunctivitis can often be treated with oral antihistamines or anti-allergy eye drops. In severe cases of bacterial conjunctivitis, antibiotic eye drops can be prescribed to clear the infection. Viral conjunctivitis will get better with time, moisturising eye drops can sometimes help soothe the irritation.

If you are worried about your eyes and would like advice about an eye infection, speak to a Thanks Doc GP today.

The information provided is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of a doctor with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never delay seeking or disregard professional medical advice because of something you have read here.

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