Choosing Wisely:

Don’t order antibiotics for adenoviral conjunctivitis.

Rationale and Comments: Adenoviral conjunctivitis and bacterial conjunctivitis are different forms of infection that can be diagnosed by the ophthalmologist by clinical signs and symptoms, and if needed, by cultures. Antibiotics are of use for patients with bacterial conjunctivitis, particularly with moderate to severe bacterial conjunctivitis. However, they are not useful for adenoviral conjunctivitis and the overuse of antibiotics can lead to the emergence of bacteria that don’t respond readily to available treatments. In cases of diagnostic uncertainty, patients may be followed closely to see if their condition resolves on its own or if further treatment is required.
Sponsoring Organizations:
  • American Academy of Ophthalmology
  • Sources:
  • Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews
  • Disciplines:
  • Infectious disease
  • Ophthalmologic
  • References: • American Academy of Ophthalmology. Conjunctivitis preferred practice pattern. 2011.
    • Sheikh A, et al. Antibiotics versus placebo for acute bacterial conjunctivitis. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2006;(2):CD001211.

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