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Conjunctivitis, Emergency Medicine

Reviewed 06/2017



Inflammation of the conjunctiva arising from a broad group of etiologies. Commonly referred to as “pink eye.” 


  • Bacterial:

    • Staphylococcus aureus

    • Streptococcus pneumoniae

    • Haemophil...


Signs and Symptoms

  • General:

    • Red eye (conjunctival irritation)

    • Gritty, foreign body sensation

    • Sensation of eyes burning

    • Discharge

    • Eyelid sticking (worse upon awakening)

    • Conjunctival edema (chemosis)...


Initial Stabilization/Therapy

  • Initiate empiric antibiotic therapy with broad-spectrum topical agent.

  • Systemic therapy for gonococcal, chlamydial, and meningococcal conjunctivitis, ophthalmia n...



Admission Criteria

Known or suspected gonococcal infection (any age group) 

Discharge Criteria

Close follow-up for all cases 

Issues for Referral

Diagnosis of EKC and bacterial conjunc...

Pearls and Pitfalls

  • Be sure to disinfect slit lamp and chair used for patients to avoid contamination.

  • Conjunctivitis is extremely contagious.

  • Viral conjunctivitis contagious for up to 2 wk.

  • EKC is espec...

Additional Reading

  • Alteveer  JG, McCans  KM. The red eye, the swollen eye, and acute vision loss. Emerg Med Pract.  2002;4(6):27.

  • Bertolini  J, Pelucio  M. The red eye. Emerg Med Clin North Am. &#...



  • 077.99 Unspecified diseases of conjunctiva due to viruses

  • 372.03 Other mucopurulent conjunctivitis

  • 372.30 Conjunctivitis, unspecified

  • 771.6 Neonatal conjunctivitis and dacryocystitis

  • 054.43 Herp...

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