Conjunctivitis, Nonspecific

Adult holding cold compress on eye.

The membrane that covers the white part of your eye (the conjunctiva) is inflamed. Inflammation happens when your body responds to an injury, allergic reaction, infection, or illness. Symptoms of inflammation in the eye may include redness, irritation, itching, swelling, or burning. These symptoms should go away within the next 24 hours. Conjunctivitis may be related to a particle that was in your eye. If so, it may wash out with your tears or irrigation treatment. Being exposed to liquid chemicals or fumes may also cause this reaction. 

Home care

  • Put a cold pack on the eye for 20 minutes at a time. This will reduce pain. To make a cold pack, put ice cubes in a plastic bag that seals at the top. Wrap the bag in a clean, thin towel or cloth.

  • Artificial tears may be prescribed to reduce irritation or redness. These should be used 3 to 4 times a day.

  • You may use acetaminophen or ibuprofen to control pain, unless another medicine was prescribed. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease, talk with your healthcare provider before using these medicines. Also talk with your provider if you have ever had a stomach ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding.

  • If you wear contact lenses, don't use them until your healthcare provider says it's OK.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your healthcare provider, or as advised.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of the following occur:

  • Eyelid swells more

  • Eye pain gets worse

  • Redness or drainage from the eye gets worse

  • Blurry vision gets worse, or you have increased sensitivity to light

  • Normal vision does not return within 24 to 48 hours

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