Adenovirus Ocular Infections: Prevalence, Pathology, Pitfalls, and Practical Pointers

Eye Contact Lens. 2018 Sep:44 Suppl 1:S1-S7. doi: 10.1097/ICL.0000000000000226.


Adenoviral conjunctivitis comprises a large number of physician office visits in the United States and places a great financial burden on health care. It is estimated that the incidence of adenovirus infection to be as high as 20 million cases per year in the United States. There are multiple adenovirus serotypes, each associated with different types and severity of infection. Ocular manifestations of adenovirus include epidemic keratoconjunctivitis, pharyngoconjunctival fever, and nonspecific conjunctivitis. Adenoviral conjunctivitis is primarily a clinical diagnosis. Laboratory diagnosis is available although until recently rarely used. At present, there is no established or approved specific effective drug against adenovirus. Treatment is primarily supportive and includes artificial tears and cool compresses. Topical antibiotics are only indicated if a bacterial coinfection is suspected or in high-risk patients such as children. Prevention against this extremely contagious disease is of utmost importance. Although most cases are self-limited and have a relatively benign course, permanent visual disability can occur. For this reason, it is imperative that all eye care providers are capable of diagnosing and effectively treating these patients, and also preventing the spread of this contagious disease to others.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adenoviridae
  • Adenoviridae Infections* / epidemiology
  • Adenoviridae Infections* / pathology
  • Adenoviridae Infections* / therapy
  • Eye Infections, Viral / epidemiology
  • Eye Infections, Viral / therapy
  • Eye Infections, Viral / virology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Prevalence
  • United States / epidemiology