bacterial conjunctivitis does not really have a season, although i have found its a little more common in winter months when people (especially children) are inside in close proximity.
viral conjunctivitis usually has a specific appearance on slit lamp examination (high magnification) that most eye doctors can distinguish most of the time. it would be difficult to tell w/o that type of exam.
but w/o high magnification, a person can make some estimated guesses:
if it has white or green discharge, it is probably bacterial. if it has yellow or clear discharge, it is probably viral.
if it is watery, mildly painful and light sensitive, it is probably viral.
if it is sticky & gross it is probably bacterial.
if it starts in one eye, then a few days later it starts in the other eye it is probably viral.
if it starts in both eyes at the same time it is probably bacterial. (if only one eye is affected, its inconclusive)
again, these are just guidelines to help someone figure it out. you really cant make a diagnosis w/o full history and slit lamp examination. a warning: many very bad things (like corneal ulcer and iritis, etc) LOOK like "conjunctivitis" at the beginning. if the person in question is a CONTACT LENS WEARER, it is probably not viral or bacterial conjunctivitis at all...it would most likely be contact lens related infection or inflammation, which would be MORE SERIOUS and require faster intervention than either viral or bacterial conjunctivitis.
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