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Referral criteria from primary care - conjunctivitis

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

The majority of cases of conjunctivitis do not require investigation or referral. The following cases should be referred to an ophthalmologist:

  • neonatal conjunctivitis
  • chronic conjunctivitis
  • if the conjunctivitis does not respond to the initial treatment (if there is no improvement in 7 to 10 days) (1)
  • if there are corneal changes associated with the conjunctivitis
  • conjunctivitis with blurring of vision or pain as opposed to discomfort, and
  • sicca (i.e. dry eye syndromes)

If the conjunctivitis is a case of sexually-associated infection then it is essential to refer the patient and contacts to the genitourinary medicine department.


  1. Leibowitz HM. The Red eye. NEJM 2000; 343:345.
  2. Prescribers' Journal 2000; 40 (2): 130-137.

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