Conjunctivitis is the most common eye problem presenting to primary care. It is characterised by sore, red eyes associated with a sticky discharge.


Bacterial conjunctivitisPurulent discharge
Eyes may be 'stuck together' in the morning)
Viral conjunctivitisSerous discharge
Recent URTI
Preauricular lymph nodes


  • Incidence: 3000.00 cases per 100,000 person-years
  • Peak incidence: 30-40 years
  • Sex ratio: 1:1
Condition Relative
Infective conjunctivitis1
Microbial keratitis0.01
<1 1-5 6+ 16+ 30+ 40+ 50+ 60+ 70+ 80+

Clinical features


Management of infective conjunctivitis
  • normally a self-limiting condition that usually settles without treatment within 1-2 weeks
  • topical antibiotic therapy is commonly offered to patients, e.g. Chloramphenicol. Chloramphenicol drops are given 2-3 hourly initially where as chloramphenicol ointment is given qds initially
  • topical fusidic acid is an alternative and should be used for pregnant women. Treatment is twice daily
  • contact lens should not be worn during an episode of conjunctivitis
  • advice should be given not to share towels
  • school exclusion is not necessary