Viral Conjunctivitis

Viral conjunctivitis, in contrast to bacterial conjunctivitis, has a less prominent discharge that is usually watery. The condition is highly contagious, and handwashing is important to avoid infection. When infected, hospital personnel, daycare workers, and institutional personnel should avoid contact with others. Palpable preauricular lymph nodes frequently are present with viral conjunctivitis and represent an important sign that can differentiate it from bacterial conjunctivitis. An associated upper respiratory infection may occur. In advanced cases, true photophobia and blurred vision caused by corneal involvement may be present and require consultation. However, most viral conjunctivitis is self-limiting, and no specific treatment is indicated. Topical steroids are contraindicated. Most viral infections resolve within 10 to 14 days, and specific serologic diagnosis is not necessary. If the conjunctivitis persists or there is any pain or change in vision, the patient should be referred.

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