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Eye and Vision Care

Viral (?) Conjunctivitis Keeps Coming Back!

07/27/2009

Question:

I had an eye infection 2 1/2 months ago which involved swelling, redness, itchind and a little bit of clear/whitish discharge first in one eye and then also in the other. Before the eye infection I had a very sore throat. The infection cleared up quickly though and I started wearing my contact lenses again after about a week and a half. My eyes were fine... until a month later, I began to have red eyes upon waking up. My eyes would gradually get whiter as the day went on, regardless of whether or not I wore my contact lenses. I went to see my doctor and got some antibiotic ointment, which seemed to make no difference. I stayed away from my contact lenses for two weeks and all my symptoms cleared, I was no longer waking up with red eyes. Then I tried wearing them again and the next day woke up with red eyes. The same cycle started again and after a few days of waking up with red eyes I went to my optometrist and got some antibacterial eyedrops and stopped wearing my contact lenses again for a week. All symptoms cleared again, until a few days ago I started with another new pair of contact lenses (and new bottle of solution and new storage case). The next day I woke up with red eyes again! Also, I`ve been having some stinging in my eyes, especially while they are still red. They get better as the day goes on, which is why I doubt that it has anything to do with a contact lense/solution allergy since I don`t use these at night. I`ve infected a few people around me but their infections have cleared quickly. It seems to me that I`ve got a lingering viral infection that keeps coming back when I try to wear contact lenses which I suppose irritate my eyes. Does this make sense? My optometrist today again told me to stay away from my contact lenses for another few weeks. Is there nothing I can do about this other than wait? I need to wear my contact lenses for work, which is why this is really disabling me. Is there something that will speed up recovery?? Will I eventually be able to wear my contact lenses again? I am really frustrated and will appreciate your response!!! Thank you in advance.

Answer:

Thank you for visiting NetWellness. Certainly any recurrent eye condition can be a frustrating situation, especially when it prevents you from wearing your contact lenses safely and comfortably. While there is a possibility that the symptoms could indicate a recurrent viral condition, there is also a possibility that the redness may be a contact lens-related inflammatory condition, especially when the symptoms only seem to appear when you resume contact lens wear. 

However, on this site, we try to answer general questions about eye conditions but cannot diagnose or recommend treatment. You appear to have some very specific questions about your recurrent red eyes, which can only be answered properly by a physician who is familiar with your physical exam and test results. Your questions about the testing results you've been given or the alternatives for proposed treatments of this condition need to be directed to your treating physician. If your physician is unable to help you understand these issues, you should get a second opinion. 

Take care.

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Response by:

Julia Rae Geldis, OD, MS Julia Rae Geldis, OD, MS
Clinical Associate Professor of Optometry
College of Optometry
The Ohio State University