Inflammation of the bulbar and/or palpebral conjunctiva of <4 weeks’ duration
- Suspect bacterial, autoimmune, or irritative process.
- If purulent, risk of bacterial cause increases with age and long-term care facility residence, with age >65 years and bilateral lid adherence. Risk for bacterial infection is >70%.
Neonatal conjunctivitis may be gonococcal, chlamydial, irritative, or related to dacryocystitis. Children <5 years of age are more likely to have bacterial involvement than adults, but most self-resolve in 2 to 5 days. Despite lack of evidence, some daycare regulations may require a child with presumed conjunctivitis to be treated with a topical antibiotic before returning.
- Predominant age
- Pediatric: viral, bacterial, irritant; adult: bacterial, viral, allergic, irritant
- Predominant sex: male = female
1–2% of ambulatory office visits, up to 3% of ER visits
Etiology and Pathophysiology
- Adenovirus (common cold), coxsackievirus; enterovirus (acute hemorrhagic conjunctivitis); herpes simplex; herpes zoster or varicella; measles, mumps, or influenza; SARS-CoV-2
- Staphylococcus aureus, MRSA or Staphylococcus epidermidis; Streptococcus pneumoniae; Haemophilus influenzae (children)
- Pseudomonas spp. or anaerobes (contact lenses users); Acanthamoeba-contaminated contact lenses solution (rare; ~30 cases/year in the United States); Neisseria gonorrhoeae; Chlamydia trachomatis: gradual onset 1 to 4 weeks
- Hay fever, seasonal allergies, atopy
- Irritative: topical medications, wind, dry eye, UV light exposure, smoke, chlorine
- Autoimmune: Sjögren syndrome, pemphigoid, Wegener granulomatosis, Reiter syndrome, sarcoid
- History of contact with infected persons; sexually transmitted disease (STD) contact: gonococcal, chlamydial, syphilis, or herpes; contact lenses: pseudomonal or acanthamoeba keratitis
- Epidemic bacterial (streptococcal) conjunctivitis reported in school settings, epidemic adenoviral transmission in crowded settings, MRSA in long-term care facilities
- Wash hands frequently.
- Eyedropper technique: while eye is closed and head back, several drops over nasal canthus and then open the eyes to allow liquid to enter; never touch the tip of the dropper to skin or eye.
Commonly Associated Conditions
Viral infection (e.g., common cold); possible sexually transmitted infection
There's more to see -- the rest of this topic is available only to subscribers.