Viral conjunctivitis, or pink eye, is one of the most common eye infections. This typically results in a red, watery, but not painful eye that may switch to the other eye or be spread among family members.
Unfortunately, there are limited options to treat viral conjunctivitis since there are no antiviral medications for the virus that causes this type of infection.
Typically, the infections will run the entire course and be remedied naturally by the immune system within a few days to a week. If intervention is needed, cool compresses and artificial tears can provide relief from some of the common symptoms. However, if the infection lingers, is severe, or has spread between the eyes multiple times, there is a procedure that uses Betadine, a sterile iodine disinfectant, to kill any live virus on the eye’s surface.
What Virus Causes Pink Eye?
The virus that is typically responsible for pink eye infections is the adenovirus. There are several different strains of this virus and it can also cause other infections – typically upper respiratory infections or sinus infections.
Other viruses can cause pink eye, but the vast majority of cases are due to a strain of adenovirus.
These adenovirus strains infect the eye quickly and are eradicated quickly as well which makes it difficult for the immune system to develop lasting immunity to the virus.
Symptoms of Pink Eye
Pink eye is denoted, as the name suggests, by a red or pinkish color to the white of the eye. Other signs of pink eye include watery discharge or excessive tearing.
Viral conjunctivitis is not the only cause of a red or watery eye, however, other causes usually have additional symptoms.
Allergies can cause similar symptoms but usually have severe itchiness as well.
Bacterial infections will have a red eye with mucus-like discharge and possibly pain as well.
First-Line Treatment for Viral Conjunctivitis
The first time that you have pink eye, you should visit the eye doctor to verify the diagnosis.
At this visit, treatment options will be discussed and the most likely option will be to try to maintain comfort and prevent the spreading of the condition.
Using cool compresses will help reduce the swelling that the infection has caused and improve the comfort of the eye.
There are over-the-counter eye drops that can reduce the redness of the eye. These drops do not treat the infection but mask the redness.
To prevent infecting the other eye or another person, hygiene is very important. Washing your hands regularly and every time you touch your eye, washing or changing linens and towels, and avoiding sharing any type of makeup product are important steps to prevent the spreading of the infection.
Betadine Treatment for Pink Eye
If the pink eye is more severe or has persisted for longer than a week, a doctor may recommend a betadine wash in both eyes to kill any remaining virus on the surface of the eye.
Betadine is an iodine-based disinfectant that is frequently used for surgical preparation and can be applied directly to the eyes in cases of pink eye.
Unfortunately, a Betadine wash is very uncomfortable and can cause a significant amount of discomfort for a few hours after the procedure.
Betadine wash is the standard of care for eliminating any pink eye infection and has been shown to be very effective.