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Bacterial conjunctivitis

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

This may be due to a range of organisms. Acute forms are often self limited and treatment serves only to shorten the course

  • exceptions are staphylococcal conjunctivitis which may progress to blepharoconjunctivitis and enter a chronic phase, and gonococcal conjunctivitis which may result in conreal perforation.
  • meningococcal conjunctivitis may be seen in children and carries the risk of meningitis.

Topical antibiotics in conjunctivitis:

in randomized clinical trial and systematic review and meta-analysis (1)

  • topical antibiotics were associated with significantly shorter durations of conjunctival symptoms in children with acute infective conjunctivitis
    • RCT (n=88), moxifloxacin eye drops reduced time to clinical cure vs placebo (3.8 vs 5.7 days; p=0.04) & in meta-analysis (4 studies;n=584), topical antibiotics reduced proportion of children with symptoms of conjunctivitis on days 3 to 6 vs placebo (OR 0.59;95% CI,0.39-0.91)
    • study authors concluded that
      • findings suggest that topical antibiotic therapy should be considered for acute infective conjunctivitis in children because antibiotics were associated with significantly shorter recovery time

Chronic forms are rarely self-limited.


  1. Honkila M, Koskela U, Kontiokari T, et al. Effect of Topical Antibiotics on Duration of Acute Infective Conjunctivitis in Children: A Randomized Clinical Trial and a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(10):e2234459. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.34459


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