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How is Conjunctivitis Diagnosed?

Discover the methods used to diagnose conjunctivitis, including patient history, symptom assessment, lab tests, virus testing, and diagnostic differentiation. Early detection aids in timely treatment.

  • 12 Feb 2024
  • 2 min read


Conjunctivitis, more commonly known as pink-eye, is a common eye infection that occurs due to an irritation or inflammation of the conjunctiva, one of the membranes present in the eye. The conjunctiva is the transparent membrane lining the eyelid and eyeball which becomes inflamed as a consequence of pink eyes. The area swells up, causing the tiny blood vessels to become highly noticeable. This is the reason for the reddish-pink appearance of the whites of the eye.

The most common cause of pink eyes is viral infection. But bacterial infections, allergic reactions, or in the case of infants, partially opened tear ducts can also cause this. But how exactly do we know for sure that it’s conjunctivitis? That's what this article will talk about: how to get a  conjunctivitis diagnosis

Diagnosis of conjunctivitis

1. Clinical Assessment

  • Patient History: Gaining a comprehensive understanding of the patient's medical history is often the first step in the diagnostic process. It helps narrow down possible causes by knowing about recent illnesses, allergies, irritant exposure, or contact with people who have conjunctivitis.


  • Symptom Assessment: Redness, itching, excessive tearing, discharge, and a gritty feeling in the eyes are typical signs of conjunctivitis. Recognizing these symptoms makes it easier to differentiate conjunctivitis from other eye disorders.

2. Physical Assessment

  • Eye Exam: Determining the degree of inflammation requires a thorough eye examination. To check for infections or allergic reactions, eye specialists may examine the cornea, conjunctiva, and other eye structures under a slit lamp.
  • Swelling and Discharge: Additional information regarding the underlying cause of conjunctivitis can be gleaned from the presence of swelling and the type of discharge- whether it is watery, mucous, or purulent.

3. Laboratory Examinations

  • Swab Culture: To determine the precise bacteria causing the infection, a swab culture may be carried out in cases where bacterial conjunctivitis is suspected. The medical practitioner can choose the best antibiotic for treatment with the use of this information.
  • Allergy Testing: In cases where allergies are suspected, the doctor may carry out specific tests to determine  which allergens are causing the conjunctivitis.

4. Testing for viruses

  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR): PCR testing can be used to identify the specific virus, for e.g., adenovirus, causing suspected viral conjunctivitis. Nonetheless, clinical presentation is frequently used to diagnose viral conjunctivitis, and prescriptions for particular antiviral drugs are typically not given as the viruses which cause such infections rarely respond to them..

5. Diagnostic Differentiation

  • The symptoms of conjunctivitis are similar to those of uveitis and dry eye syndrome. In differential diagnosis, these possibilities are ruled out by closely examining clinical features and, if needed, ordering additional tests.

6. Reporting Oneself and Past Exposures

  • Patients may offer important details regarding recent contact with infectious people or environmental triggers for conjunctivitis. This helps figure out how contagious the illness is and put preventative measures in place.

Also read:


Conjunctivitis is typically a common and treatable eye condition, and it rarely causes financial trouble for most people. However, viral conjunctivities, allergic conjunctivitis, and many other infections can be troublesome not only to our health, but our bank balance also. Thus, having health insurance coverage is a good idea as it  guarantees that people can take care of their eye health needs without experiencing undue financial strain. And also guarantees that the whole procedure from initial consultations and diagnostic tests to ongoing treatment is easy and hassle-free.

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