Eye Infection Without Pus (Viral)

Eye Infection Itch

  • Redness of the sclera (white part of the eye)
  • Redness of the inner eyelids
  • A watery discharge
  • No yellow discharge or matting of eyelids
  • Not caused by crying or allergy
  • Also called “bloodshot eyes” or “conjunctivitis”

Eye Infection Without Pus Causes

Red eyes are usually caused by a viral infection, and they commonly accompany colds. If a bacterial super-infection occurs, the discharge becomes yellow and the eyelids are commonly matted together after sleeping. These children need antibiotic eye drops even if the eyes are not red.

The second most common cause is an irritant in the eye. The irritant can be shampoo, smog, smoke, or chlorine from a swimming pool. More commonly in young children it comes from touching the eyes with hands carrying dirt, food, soap, or animal saliva.

Expected Course

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

Home Care for Eye Infection Without Pus

Washing with Soap. Wash the face, and then wash the eyelids once with soap and water. Rinse them carefully with water. This will remove any irritants.

Irrigating with Water. For viral infections, rinse the eyes with warm water as often as possible, at least every 1-2 hours while your child is awake. Use a fresh, wet cotton ball each time. This usually will keep a bacterial infection from occurring. For mild chemical irritants, irrigate the eye with warm water for 5 minutes.

Vasoconstrictor Eye Drops. Viral conjunctivitis is not helped by eye drops. Red eyes from irritants usually feel much better after the irritant has been washed out. If the eyes remain uncomfortable and bloodshot, instill some long- acting vasoconstrictor eye drops (a nonprescription item) such as visine.

Contagiousness. Viral conjunctivitis is harmless and mildly contagious. Children with viral conjunctivitis can attend day care or school.


  • The outer eyelids become very red or swollen.
  • Eye pain occurs.
  • The vision becomes blurred.

Within 24 hours if

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