Conjunctivitis ​


The conjunctiva is a thin layer of clear tissue that lies over the white part of the eye and lines the eye lids. It also contains small blood vessels. When these vessels become inflamed, the eye appears red, hence explaining why the disorder is called ‘pink eye’. Conjunctivitis is a common disorder in children, teachers and day-care workers because they are more likely to be exposed to someone infected with conjunctivitis. 

Conjunctivitis may be caused by a viral infection, bacterial infection, allergies, or exposure to a foreign object. It may affect one or both eyes, and is a very contagious disorder which can spread if one comes in direct or indirect contact with discharge from the eyes of an infected person. Owing to its contagious nature, it is better if conjunctivitis is detected earlier so that treatment can be started, helping prevent the spread of this disease. 

Although conjunctivitis may be frightening for some because of uncomfortable symptoms, such as red eyes and thick, greenish discharge, it is rarely harmful for your vision. However, conjunctivitis in new-born babies – neonatal conjunctivitis – can be a serious complication if left untreated. Therefore, any signs of conjunctivitis in new-borns should be immediately examined by an eye doctor.

As evident from the name ‘pink eye’, the main symptom of conjunctivitis is redness of the eyes, which gives a pink appearance. Other signs and symptoms are as follows:

  • Itching of the eyes

  • Watery eyes

  • Feeling that there is a grit in your eye

  • Excessive tearing

  •  A sticky discharge from the eyes which may make your eyes stick together during the night, making it difficult to open them in the morning. This is specially common in conjunctivitis due to bacterial infection

  • Sensitivity to light

  • Swollen eye lids

  • Eye pain

​Even though conjunctivitis is not harmful for your vision, it must be treated as soon as you identify signs of this disorder since it is an extremely contagious one. Therefore, if you develop the symptoms of pink eye described above, you must make an appointment with an ophthalmologist (eye specialist) working with the Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital to get your symptoms assessed. This can help prevent the spread of the infection to those around you. 

Pink eye must especially not be ignored in new-borns as delayed treatment can lead to further complications. Any disturbances in your vision are also a cause for concern and require assessment by a doctor.​

​Your time with your doctor may be limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

The doctor’s examination will be focused on identifying the cause of your pink eye. For this, questions about your medical history, your symptoms, whether your disorder has been recurring or whether it is caused by certain allergens in the environment will be asked to help make an initial diagnosis. 

Following this, a detailed eye exam will be carried out by the ophthalmologist. Your eye examination will include the following:

  • A visual acuity test to check your eye sight

  • Examination of the conjunctivitis and external eye tissues with the help of magnifying tools

  • Special eye tests to examine the inner structures of the eye

Other than the eye test, your doctor may also request a test of the discharge from your eyes to make a more accurate diagnosis about the cause of conjunctivitis. 

​The team of ophthalmologists at The Aga Khan University Hospital are specially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of eye disorders, such as conjunctivitis. You can be assured of receiving multidisciplinary healthcare under one roof from the staff at the Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat Service Line of the Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi.

Though conjunctivitis clears up on its own within a week, early treatment prevents it from spreading to others around you. The treatment option prescribed to you will also depend on the cause of your pink eye. For instance, cases of allergic conjunctivitis and bacterial conjunctivitis are treated with medications as prescribed by the doctor. The full course of medications prescribed by your doctor must be completed to prevent recurrence of infection. 

Viral conjunctivitis, like a viral cold, has to be allowed to run its course as no medications can cure pink eye caused by a virus. 

In cases of conjunctivitis caused by foreign matter, such as exposure to certain chemicals, flushing of the eyes with saline and prescribed drops may be recommended.

You can also take some at-home measures to manage your symptoms better. Some of these include:

  • Avoid wearing contact lenses when you are suffering from pink eye

  • Use a cool or warm compress

  • Avoid allergens that worsen your condition

  • Keep your clothes clean

  • Bathe and wash your eyes carefully before bedtime, especially if you have allergic conjunctivitis

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

​Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage




The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.