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Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0

Eye Infection Without Pus (Viral) (for Teenagers)


  • redness of the sclera (white part of the eye)
  • redness of the inner eyelids
  • puffy eyelids (usually) due to irritation from the infection
  • watery discharge from eye
  • no yellow discharge from eye or matting of eyelids
  • not caused by crying or allergy.

This condition is also called pink eye, bloodshot eyes, or conjunctivitis.


Red eyes are usually caused by a viral infection and they often occur when you have a cold. If a bacterial infection occurs, discharge from your eyes becomes yellow and the eyelids are often matted together after sleeping. If this happens, you need antibiotic eyedrops even if your eyes are not red.

An irritant in the eye is the second most common cause of red eyes. The irritant can be shampoo, smog, smoke, or chlorine from a swimming pool. A less common cause is touching the eyes with hands carrying dirt, food, soap, or animal saliva.


Chemical in Eye

Eye Allergies

Eye Infection with Pus

Foreign Body in Eye


Viral conjunctivitis usually lasts as long as the cold (4 to 7 days). Red eyes from irritants usually are cured within 4 hours after the irritating substance is washed out.


  1. Washing with soap

    Wash your face and then wash your eyelids once with soap and water. Rinse them carefully with water. This will remove any irritants.

  2. Irrigating with water

    For viral infections, rinse your eyes with warm water as often as possible, at least every 1 or 2 hours while awake. Use a fresh, wet cotton ball each time. This rinsing usually will keep a bacterial infection from occurring.

    For mild chemical irritants, irrigate the eye with warm water for 5 minutes.

  3. Vasoconstrictor eyedrops

    A viral infection is not helped by eyedrops.

    Red eyes from irritants usually feel much better after the irritant has been washed out. If your eyes remain uncomfortable and bloodshot, put in some long-acting vasoconstrictor eyedrops (a nonprescription item). You need the eyedrops recommended by your physician.

  4. Contagiousness

    Pink eye is harmless and mildly contagious. You may still attend school.


  • Your eyelids become very red or swollen.
  • Your develop blurred vision or eye pain.


  • A yellow discharge develops.
  • The redness lasts more than 7 days.
  • You have other concerns or questions.

Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems