Conjunctivitis - Symptoms And Treatment

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Conjunctivitis - Symptoms And Treatment
Conjunctivitis - Symptoms And Treatment
Video: Conjunctivitis - Symptoms And Treatment
Video: Pink Eye | Symptoms & Treatment 2023, February

Conjunctivitis (conjunctivitis)

With conjunctivitis, the conjunctiva of the eye is inflamed. The eyes redden. Conjunctivitis can only affect one eye, but it can also spread to the other eye and other people. Depending on the different cause (e.g. bacteria, viruses, etc.), various therapeutic measures are taken. Eye complaints such as redness, swelling, sticky eyes, foreign body sensation, burning, itching, watery eyes, pain, etc. should be clarified with the ophthalmologist…


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Conjunctivitis - what is it?

One of the typical signs of conjunctivitis is reddened eyes. It is also characteristic that the eye is sticky in the morning and secretes a yellowish-white liquid (in bacterial conjunctivitis). Watery eyes, sensation of foreign bodies, burning and itching (e.g. in the event of an allergic reaction) occur. In rare cases, photophobia may also be present.

Conjunctivitis can be due to various causes:

  • Bacteria;
  • Viruses;
  • Mushrooms;
  • Allergies, allergic reactions;
  • chemical, physical, thermal stimuli, UV rays (e.g. chemical burns, smoke, dust, cold, wind, reactions to medication, make-up, UV rays in the mountains, welding work, contact lenses that have been worn for too long, damaged or soiled, overexertion from long periods of time constant and concentrated close work, lack of sleep) - you can find further information on UV rays & damage to the eye under Photoophthalmia / Photokeratitis;
  • Injuries;
  • dry eyes.

Conjunctivitis can occur as a result of illnesses and other inflammations, e.g. as a result of sinusitis. Position anomalies of the eyelids or eyelashes, wetting disorders, uncorrected refractive errors of the eye, etc. can also lead to conjunctivitis.

Note Certain conjunctivitis is contagious and can therefore be passed on to other people (eg chlamydia [newborn conjunctivitis], adenoviruses, etc.).


The doctor gets an idea of ​​the patient's complaints and carries out an assessment. He / she can use the symptoms to narrow down the cause of the conjunctivitis and carry out examinations (e.g. slit lamp examination, smear of the conjunctiva and detection of pathogens). If an allergic reaction is suspected, allergy tests can be done.


Certain conjunctivitis often heal without any consequences and relatively quickly - even without special therapy. Others, however, need treatment. Depending on the different cause of conjunctivitis, various therapeutic measures are taken, such as:

Bacterial conjunctivitis

Mildly purulent bacterial conjunctivitis is treated with antibiotic drops. An eye ointment can also be used if there is a lot of pus. Conjunctivitis caused by chlamydia is treated systemically (tablets) and locally using antibiotics. This conjunctivitis is a so-called oculogenital infection - ie chlamydia are usually transmitted through sexual intercourse and passed on to the eye through the hands. An untreated infection can cause permanent damage to the eye. Sex partners must be treated systemically. Chlamydial conjunctivitis can also occur in newborns if it is passed from mother to child at birth (see Newborn Conjunctivitis). Also gonococci,which are also transmitted through sexual intercourse - and from mother to child at birth - can lead to conjunctivitis. These are treated with antibiotics. For more information on chlamydia and gonococci (gonorrhea, gonorrhea), see Sexually Transmitted Diseases.

Viral conjunctivitis

If the conjunctivitis is related to a viral infection of the respiratory tract (flu infection), artificial tear fluid can be used. Conjunctivitis caused by viral infections often heals "by itself". However, some of the pathogens are highly contagious (adenoviruses, so-called epidemic conjunctivitis, Keratoconjunctivitis epidemica). Particularly careful hygiene (hand hygiene, refrain from shaking hands, no shared towels, etc.) is necessary in these cases. It can take a long time to heal completely. There is no specific therapy. Further information on adenoviruses and conjunctivitis can be found at and (German BZgA). In addition, it can lead to conjunctivitis caused by herpes viruses, which are also responsible for the development of fever blisters. Herpes simplex conjunctivitis occurs in children in the course of a primary infection and manifests itself as blisters on the lid, reddening and swollen conjunctiva. This can heal on its own or be treated with acyclovir. The herpes simplex virus can also recur.The virus always remains in the organism for life and can be activated by stimuli (e.g. UV radiation, infections, etc.). This can lead to inflammation - especially of the cornea (keratitis).

Neonatal conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis can already occur in newborns. The pathogens are different. An infection with chlamydia (Chlamydia trachomatis) or the herpes simplex virus is transmitted from mother to child at birth. The so-called chlamydial blennorrhea (infection with chlamydia trachomatis through transmission of the infected birth canal) is treated with erythromycin eye drops in babies. At the same time, systemic therapy with erythromycin is carried out on the mother. Herpes simplex conjunctivitis in newborns is treated with acyclovir eye ointment. Gonococcal infections are particularly dangerous, but they are less common. The so-called gonoblennorrhea is treated with penicillin. The so-called Credé prophylaxis is used as a preventative measure.

Allergic conjunctivitis & irritable conjunctivitis

This form of conjunctivitis is based on an allergic reaction (e.g. to the ingredients of eye medication, food, cosmetics, antigens such as pollen, etc.). Decongestant eye drops, cromoglycine-containing and steroid-containing eye drops or H-1 receptor blockers (topical antihistamines) are used to reduce symptoms. Further tests such as allergy tests can be done to identify the trigger (s) - and avoid them later. For information about allergy testing and treating allergic reactions, see Allergies. Various stimuli such as smoke and UV radiation can also cause conjunctivitis. Artificial tear fluid can be used here. Triggers should be avoided as far as possible and protection against the specific stimuli should be provided.

Lack of tears

Conjunctivitis due to lack of tears (conjunctivitis sicca) can be treated with tear substitutes. For more information on treatment, see Dry eye.

Refraction & position errors

Refractive errors or ametropia are also possible reasons for conjunctivitis. These are partly corrected by glasses / lenses. For more information on treating ametropia, see Myopia, Farsightedness, and Astigmatism


Inflammation caused by fungi rarely affects the conjunctiva. These are treated with antifungal drugs (medicines used to treat fungal infections) that are used both locally and systemically.

Whom can I ask?

Eye complaints (redness and swelling of the eyes, sticky eyes, sensation of foreign bodies, burning, itching, watery eyes, pain, etc.) should be clarified with the ophthalmologist (also: ophthalmologist, specialist in ophthalmology). She / he diagnoses conjunctivitis and determines the therapy. The family doctor can also be the point of contact and, if necessary, initiate referrals.

How are the costs going to be covered?

The costs of the ophthalmological examination to clarify a conjunctivitis are usually covered by the social security institutions.

For information on the respective provisions, please contact your health insurance provider, which you can find on the social security website.

You can find more information on contract doctors under Visiting a doctor: Costs and deductibles.

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