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Infectious Conjunctivitis

more about Infectious Conjunctivitis


  • Conjunctivitis is an infection of the eyes and eyelids, commonly called "pink eye".
  • Conjunctivitis can be due to bacterial or viral infection.  In adults and older teens, the cause is usually viral.  In younger children, it may be viral or bacterial.  In newborns, bacterial infections are more common.
  • In newborns, there is concern for infection during the birth process, especially by the organisms responsible for gonorrhea and chlamydia, two common sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs).  Mothers who receive prenatal care in the United States will be tested for these infections, but such tests are not 100% effective, and some women will be infected without their knowledge.

  • Discharge in the eye

  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Red eyes with prominent blood vessels, both on the eye itself and on the inside surface of the eyelids
  • Mild swelling and redness of the skin of the eyelids

  • In most cases, diagnosis is clinical and no testing is necessary
  • In newborn infants, testing is more often done to ensure that the infection will respond to the antibiotics being used.  The most common test is a culture, in which a swab of discharge from the eye is sent to the laboratory in an attempt to grow the organism responsible for the infection.

  • Most cases of infectious conjunctivitis respond quickly to topical antibiotics given directly into the eyes as drops or ointment.
  • In some newborns, oral medications may be given as well, depending on the circumstances.
  • If the infected person is an older child or teen who wears contacts, he/she should be evaluated by an ophthalmologist immediately, and the offending contacts discarded and replaced.

  • Infectious conjunctivitis is very easily spread from person to person.
  • The best way to prevent spread of the infection is through hand washing after the infected child has been treated.





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