What is the difference between viral and bacterial conjunctivitis (pink eye)?

Updated: Mar 24, 2020
  • Author: Ingrid U Scott, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Andrew A Dahl, MD, FACS  more...
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Answer

Viral conjunctivitis, although usually benign and self-limited, tends to follow a longer course than acute bacterial conjunctivitis, lasting for approximately 2-4 weeks. Viral infection is characterized commonly by an acute follicular conjunctival reaction and preauricular adenopathy. (See History and Physical Examination.)


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