What are the most common causes of
conjunctivitis in childhood?
Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva
which is usually caused by infection or allergy.
frequently referred to as "pink eye" and is the most
common acute eye disorder seen by primary care
pediatricians and family physicians.
What are the characteristics of allergic
Allergic conjunctivitis is characterized by:
and itching around the eye
Tearing (clear tears)
Crusting of the eyelids
The condition is often recurrent and
Children who have allergic conjunctivitis
often have a history of other atopic diseases,
What are the characteristics of an infectious
Infectious conjunctivitis may be bacterial or viral.
Bacterial conjunctivitis is twice as common as viral
Typically in bacterial conjunctivitis the
eye is red, there is a purulent (pus) discharge, the
affected child is often a preschooler and there may
be an associated ear infection.
In viral conjunctivitis,
which usually occurs in older school-age children, is often associated with an upper respiratory infection, a common cold, and/or a sore throat. Its symptoms include watery discharge and variable itching in one eye, but may spread easily to the other.
What organisms are commonly involved in
The most common bacterial organisms causing
conjunctivitis are Haemophilus Influenzae and
Haemophilus Influenzae conjunctivitis occurs in 40 percent to 50 percent of
cases and is more likely to be associated with an
accompanying ear infection than other organisms.
Pneumoniae accounts for about 10 percent of cases
and other organisms (Staphylococcus aureus,
Bacteroides and Moraxella catarrhalis) account for
What is the most common cause of viral
Adenovirus conjunctivitis is the most common cause
of viral conjunctivitis and may account for up to
20 percent of infectious conjunctivitis.
adenoviral conjunctivitis have been linked to
contaminated equipment in ophthalmology clinics
and to swimming pools.
Why is there a need to distinguish viral from
Viral and other non-purulent types of conjunctivitis
do not require treatment with antibiotics. Often these
children are treated mistakenly for prolonged
periods of time with both topical and systemic
antibiotics with persistence of the red eye.
situations the topical antibiotic itself may cause an
allergic reaction resulting in a persistent red eye.
What is the treatment of choice for acute
Acute bacterial conjunctivitis is a self-limited
condition. However, the use of antibiotic treatment is
recommended because it hastens healing
considerably and it eradicates the bacterial pathogen
allowing children to return to daycare centers and
schools within 24 hours of treatment.
What is the treatment for viral conjunctivitis?
Non-purulent viral conjunctivitis requires no
What is the treatment for allergic
Allergic conjunctivitis can be treated with a
preparation for eyes containing a topical
decongestant with or without antihistamine.
Where can I get more information?
Contact your doctor or the Southern Nevada Health District, Office of Epidemiology at (702) 759-1300.