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Clin Ther. 1995 Sep-Oct;17(5):800-10; discussion 779.

A review of the causes and treatment of bacterial and allergic conjunctivitis.

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Division of Ophthalmology, Scripps Clinic and Research Foundation, La Jolla, California, USA.


The most common causes of ocular inflammation are allergic or infectious in origin. A presumptive diagnosis can often be made through a comprehensive patient history and evaluation of presenting signs and symptoms, although the constellation and intensity of clinical findings may vary. Patients with allergic conjunctivitis often have itchy, red eyes, whereas patients with bacterial conjunctivitis often give a history of morning crusting and difficulty opening the eyelids. The treatment of patients with allergic conjunctivitis includes avoiding the offending allergen and applying topical antihistamines, mast cell stabilizers, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents. Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae are responsible for most cases of bacterial conjunctivitis in children. Staphylococcus species is the predominant organism in adults. Therefore, the treatment of patients with bacterial conjunctivitis consists of an antimicrobial agent with a broad spectrum of activity against most susceptible pathogens. Other causes of inflammation need to be considered in patients with atypical clinical signs and symptoms and in patients who do not respond to presumptive therapy.

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