What is Bacterial Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye) and How is it Treated?

by Aug 30, 2022

Bacterial conjunctivitis is an infection of the surface membrane of the eye called the conjunctiva. The conjunctiva covers all of the front of the eye and has many blood vessels within it. If it becomes infected, there will be redness, puss, and discomfort.


Types of Bacteria that Infect the Eye

Multiple different bacteria species can cause bacterial conjunctivitis. The most common bacteria that causes conjunctivitis is staphylococcus (staph).

Other bacteria which can cause conjunctivitis include streptococcus, Neisseria, Haemophilus, and Morexella.

While there are several species of bacteria which can be responsible for bacterial conjunctivitis, most are treated in the same manner and will present similarly.


Who is Affected Commonly by Bacterial Conjunctivitis

In most cases, bacterial conjunctivitis will occur in children or the elderly. Both of these groups are slightly more susceptible to infection from bacteria which are usually present on the skin or body without any issues.

These bacterial infections may begin at a very young age and will usually begin to subside by the age of adolescence.

Hygiene also plays a major role in the increased incidence and rapid spread of bacterial conjunctivitis among children.


Symptoms of Bacterial Conjunctivitis

The symptoms of bacterial conjunctivitis include a red eye, mucus or puss-like discharge from the eye, pain on or around the eye, blurry vision, and matting of the eyelashes during sleep.

The bacterial infection in the conjunctiva results in an increase in blood flow and inflammation to the eyes.

The bacteria also cause the body to produce copious amounts of mucus as the body attempts to rid itself of the bacterial infection.

Since the eye is inflamed and producing mucus, the vision may become obstructed, and the eyelashes can become matted at night or during sleep.


Differences of Gonorrhea Bacterial Conjunctivitis

The bacteria which causes gonorrhea, Neisseria, can also cause bacterial conjunctivitis.

Bacterial conjunctivitis caused by this particular bacterium can be easily identified compared to others as the onset is very fast and the symptoms are much more severe.

The bacterium, Neisseria, is sexually transmitted and many patients are already aware of the condition before presenting for an eye exam.


Treatment for Pink Eye

Bacteria conjunctivitis will require treatment with antibiotic eye drops or oral antibiotic medications.

Since the majority of bacteria which cause bacterial conjunctivitis are considered to be gram positive class bacteria, antibiotic eye drops such as besifloxacin, gatifloxacin, erythromycin, polymyxin B tobramycin, and gentamicin are commonly used.

For more severe infections, oral antibiotic may be required. Oral medications including azithromycin, doxycycline, and amoxicillin can be used.

Specifically, bacterial conjunctivitis caused by Neisseria will require treatment with either azithromycin or doxycycline oral medications.


Management for Bacterial Conjunctivitis

Other than treating the infection, the management for bacterial conjunctivitis includes increased sanitary precautions due to the infectious nature of the condition, comforting treatments such as artificial tears or cool compresses, and sexual history tracking and counselling if indicated.

Precautions including changing pillowcases and washing towels separately can prevent cases of bacterial conjunctivitis from spreading among households.


Dr. Nathan Abraham and the staff of the Abraham Eye Center specializes in cataract surgery, LASIK, PRK, and various corneal surgeries.  Call our ophthalmologist in Valencia, CA today at 661-977-7377 or schedule an appointment online if you are interested in learning more about or being examined for bacterial conjunctivitis (pink eye).  Our eye doctor provides only the highest quality eye care and surgical services amongst eye doctors in the Valencia California area.

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