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Conjunctivitis (Pinkeye)

A condition in which the conjunctiva (membranes lining the eyelids and covering the white part of the eye) become inflamed or infected. Also called pinkeye. NIH - National Cancer Institute

About Conjunctivitis

This term describes a group of diseases that cause swelling, itching, burning, and redness of the conjunctiva, the protective membrane that lines the eyelids and covers exposed areas of the sclera, or white of the eye. Conjunctivitis can spread from one person to another and affects millions of Americans at any given time. Conjunctivitis can be caused by a bacterial or viral infection, allergy, environmental irritants, a contact lens product, eyedrops, or eye ointments.

At its onset, conjunctivitis is usually painless and does not harm vision. The infection will clear in most cases without requiring medical care. But for some forms of conjunctivitis, treatment will be needed. If treatment is delayed, the infection may worsen and cause corneal inflammation and a loss of vision. NIH - National Eye Institute

What works? Research summarized

Evidence reviews

Acute infective conjunctivitis in primary care: who needs antibiotics? An individual patient data meta-analysis

BACKGROUND: Acute infective conjunctivitis is a common problem in primary care, traditionally managed with topical antibiotics. A number of clinical trials have questioned the benefit of topical antibiotics for patients with acute infective conjunctivitis.

Efficacy and safety of rupatadine for allergic rhino-conjunctivitis: a systematic review of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies with meta-analysis

BACKGROUND: Allergic rhinitis is a complex inflammatory disease whose pathophysiology involves local and systemic mechanisms. Rupatadine, a molecule with intense antihistaminic activity and with antagonist PAF effects through its interaction with specific receptors, is indicated for the treatment of intermittent or persistent allergic rhinitis and urticaria.

Topical non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in allergic conjunctivitis: meta-analysis of randomized trial data

PURPOSE: To assess the effect of topical Non-Steroidal Anti Inflammatory drugs in the treatment of allergic conjunctivitis.

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Summaries for consumers

Conjunctivitis: Do antibiotics help?

In more than half of all people who have conjunctivitis, the infection goes away without treatment within a week. Antibiotic eye drops or ointment can speed up recovery. Adverse effects are very rare.

Antibiotics versus placebo for acute bacterial conjunctivitis

Acute bacterial conjunctivitis is an infective condition in which one or both eyes become red and inflamed. The condition is not normally serious and in most cases resolves spontaneously. People with acute conjunctivitis are often given antibiotics, usually as eye drops or ointment, to speed recovery. The benefits of antibiotics to the sufferer of conjunctivitis have been questioned. We found 11 randomised controlled trial (RCTs) from different parts of the world which recruited a total of 3673 participants overall. We judged two of the trials to be of high quality, and we graded the remainder as poor quality. This updated review provides clearer evidence that use of antibiotic eye drops can speed up the resolution of symptoms and infection, and that they are unlikely to be associated with any serious side effects.

Diagnostics: Why doing more is not always better

Tests are often done to find the cause of certain symptoms. There are several reasons why it can be important to have as accurate a diagnosis as possible: It helps doctors find out whether symptoms are a sign of a (serious) disease and how the disease might progress. Knowing what is causing the symptoms can also make it easier to find an appropriate treatment. On the other hand, not all symptoms can be linked to certain causes. And sometimes the tests themselves can become a problem and do more harm than good. This text is about what kinds of tests there are, and why it is not always a good idea to do all the examinations that are possible.

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More about Conjunctivitis

Photo of a young adult

Also called: Pink eye

Other terms to know:
Conjunctiva, Sclera (White of the Eye)

Keep up with systematic reviews on Conjunctivitis:


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