What is Bacterial Conjunctivitis: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Author: Premier Eye Associates

Bacterial conjunctivitis, also known as "pink eye," is a common eye infection caused by various bacteria. It is characterized by inflammation of the conjunctiva, the thin, clear tissue that covers the white part of the eye and lines the inner surface of the eyelids. In this blog post, we will delve into the causes, symptoms, and available treatment options for bacterial conjunctivitis.


Causes of Bacterial Conjunctivitis

Bacterial conjunctivitis can be caused by different types of bacteria, including:

Staphylococcus aureus: This bacterium is commonly found on the skin and can easily spread to the eyes through touching or rubbing.

Streptococcus pneumoniae: Often associated with respiratory infections, this bacterium can also cause bacterial conjunctivitis.

Haemophilus influenzae: This bacterium can lead to more severe cases of conjunctivitis, particularly in children.

Other Bacteria: Various other bacteria like Moraxella, Chlamydia, and Gonococcus can also be responsible for conjunctivitis, although they are less common.


Symptoms of Bacterial Conjunctivitis

Bacterial conjunctivitis typically affects one or both eyes and presents with the following symptoms:

Redness: One of the hallmark signs of bacterial conjunctivitis is redness of the eye(s).

Eye Discharge: The affected eye(s) may produce a yellowish or greenish discharge that can crust over during sleep.

Itching or Irritation: People with bacterial conjunctivitis often experience itching or a sensation of foreign objects in the eye.

Eye Swelling: Inflammation and swelling of the eyelids or the conjunctiva itself may occur.

Tearing: Increased tear production is common when the conjunctiva is irritated.


If you experience these symptoms persistently or if they worsen, it is important to seek advice from an eye care professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.


Treating Bacterial Conjunctivitis

Bacterial conjunctivitis can be effectively treated with the following approaches:

Antibiotic Eye Drops: Topical antibiotic eye drops or ointments are commonly prescribed to eliminate the bacteria causing the infection. Antibiotics such as erythromycin, ciprofloxacin, or moxifloxacin are often used. It is important to follow the prescribed dosage and duration to ensure complete eradication of the infection.

Warm Compresses: Applying warm compresses to the affected eye(s) can help alleviate symptoms such as swelling and discomfort. This can be done by soaking a clean cloth in warm water and gently placing it on the closed eyelid.

Good Hygiene Practices: To prevent spreading the infection or reinfection, it is essential to maintain good hygiene. This includes frequently washing hands, avoiding touching or rubbing the eyes, and regularly changing pillowcases and towels.

Avoiding Contact Lenses: If you wear contact lenses, it is advisable to discontinue using them until the infection clears. Contact lenses may harbor bacteria and exacerbate the condition.


Preventive Measures

To reduce the risk of bacterial conjunctivitis, consider these preventive measures:

Avoid Sharing Personal Items: Avoid sharing towels, washcloths, cosmetics, or eye drops with others to minimize the chances of spreading bacteria that can cause conjunctivitis. 

Practice Good Hand Hygiene: Regularly wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, especially after touching your face or coming into contact with potentially contaminated surfaces. 

Protect Your Eyes: When participating in activities that may expose your eyes to irritants or foreign objects, such as swimming or construction work, wear protective eyewear to reduce the risk of infection.


Dr. Anthony Spina and the staff of Premier Eye Associates specialize in glasses, soft contact lenses, hard contact lenses, and medical eye exams. Call our eye doctor in Auburn, AL today at (334) 539-5391 or schedule an appointment online if you are interested in learning more about the most effective treatment options for bacterial conjunctivitis.  Our optometrist provides only the highest quality eye care services amongst eye doctors in the Auburn Alabama area.

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