Bacterial conjunctivitis

BMJ Clin Evid. 2007 Nov 7:2007:0704.


Introduction: Most cases of conjunctivitis in adults are probably due to viral infection, but children are more likely to develop bacterial conjunctivitis than they are viral forms. The main bacterial pathogens are Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pneumoniae in adults and children, and Moraxella catarrhalis in children. Contact lens wearers may be more likely to develop gram-negative infections. Bacterial keratitis occurs in up to 30 per 100,000 contact lens wearers.

Methods and outcomes: We conducted a systematic review and aimed to answer the following clinical question: What are the effects of antibiotics in adults and children with bacterial conjunctivitis? We searched: Medline, Embase, The Cochrane Library and other important databases up to January 2006 (Clinical Evidence reviews are updated periodically, please check our website for the most up-to-date version of this review). We included harms alerts from relevant organisations such as the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Results: We found 35 systematic reviews, RCTs, or observational studies that met our inclusion criteria. We performed a GRADE evaluation of the quality of evidence for interventions.

Conclusions: In this systematic review we present information relating to the effectiveness and safety of the following intervention: topical antibiotics.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Conjunctivitis, Bacterial*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Prescriptions
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Family Practice
  • Humans
  • Keratitis
  • Moraxella catarrhalis
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents