[conjunctiva + -itis]
Inflammation of the conjunctiva. Treatment is directed against the specific cause.

Viral, gonococcal, and chlamydial conjunctivitis are highly contagious diseases spread by person-to-person contact. When an infection is present, the patient experiences itching, tearing, burning, pain and a mucopurulent discharge, along with the feeling of a foreign body in the eye. The conjunctiva becomes hyperemic, thus the common name of “pinkeye.” To limit spread of the disease, patients with infectious conjunctivitis should avoid touching their eyes and should wash their hands thoroughly before and after any eye contact or treatment. If eye drops are prescribed, the patient is taught how to avoid contaminating the medication dispenser. To do this, without having the dropper tip touch the patient's eye, the patient's head should be placed backward with the eyes looking upward, and the drop or drops as prescribed placed into a pouch created by pulling downward on the lashes and tissues of the bottom eyelid. If an ophthalmic ointment is prescribed, the patient is taught to apply it to the inner aspect of the bottom eyelid in a thin ribbon, from the inner to the outer canthus. If the eye is difficult to open because of sticky discharge, the patient should rinse it with sterile saline or other ophthalmic solution or apply a moist compress to the eyelids. Hand hygiene helps prevent spread of infection from one eye to the other and transfer of the infection from the affected patient to others in the household.

Descriptive text is not available for this imageGonococcal and chlamydial conjunctivitis are sexually transmitted diseases. All sexual partners of affected patients should be identified and treated.

Descriptive text is not available for this image


actinic conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis resulting from exposure to ultraviolet (actinic) radiation.

acute contagious conjunctivitis

SEE: Epidemic keratoconjunctivitis.

acute hemorrhagic conjunctivitis

A contagious viral eye infection marked by rapid onset of pain. It causes swollen eyelids, hyperemia of the conjunctiva, and later subconjunctival hemorrhage. The disease, which is self-limited and for which there is no specific therapy, usually affects both eyes. Several viral agents can cause this disease, including enterovirus 70, echovirus 7, and a variant of coxsackievirus A24.

angular conjunctivitis of Morax-Axenfeld

An infection of the lateral canthus of the eyelid. The infection is often caused by the Moraxella species.

catarrhal conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis due to causes such as foreign bodies, bacteria, or irritation from heat, cold, or chemicals.

chlamydial conjunctivitis

Conjunctivitis caused by Chlamydia trachomatis. In newborns this type of conjunctivitis is encountered more frequently than ophthalmia neonatorum caused by gonococci. Prophylaxis for chlamydial conjunctivitis is 1% topical silver nitrate. If the disease develops, drugs such as azithromycin, quinolones, or sulfa-based antibiotics are used.
SYN: SEE: inclusion conjunctivitis; SEE: inclusion blennorrhea

follicular conjunctivitis

A type of conjunctivitis characterized by pinkish round bodies in the retrotarsal fold; can be chronic or acute.

giant papillary conjunctivitis

ABBR: GPC An immune/foreign body response of the conjunctiva to contact lenses, esp. if left in place for 4 or more weeks, to nylon, or to prosthetic materials. It causes itching of the eye, redness, photophobia, swelling, and blurry vision. Examination reveals giant papillae on the superior tarsus.

Changing or removing disposable contact lenses frequently decreases the likelihood of contracting GPC. All contact lens wearers should be advised to use good hand hygiene esp. before handling lenses, and to replace lenses according to prescribed schedule, using prescribed cleaning and storage guidelines, and a “rub and rinse” cleaning method rather than no rub. If such symptoms occur, the individual should remove the contact lens immediately and seek evaluation and treatment from the primary care provider or ophthalmologist.

gonococcal conjunctivitis

A severe, acute form of purulent conjunctivitis caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
SEE: ophthalmia neonatorum

gonorrheal conjunctivitis

SEE: gonococcal conjunctivitis

granular conjunctivitis

Acute contagious inflammatory conjunctivitis with granular elevations on the lids that ulcerate and scar.

inclusion conjunctivitis

SEE: Chlamydial conjunctivitis.

ligneous conjunctivitis

A rare eye disease in which fibrin deposits create woody plaques on the conjunctiva. Similar plaques may develop in the airways and genitalia. The disease often is found in patients with a deficiency in plasminogen levels.

membranous conjunctivitis

Acute conjunctivitis marked by a false membrane with or without infiltration.

conjunctivitis of newborn

SEE: Ophthalmia neonatorum.

phlyctenular conjunctivitis

An allergenic form of conjunctivitis common in children and marked by small white nodules on the bulbar conjunctiva often near the limbus. Can be seen in tuberculosis and staphylococcal infections.

purulent conjunctivitis

A form of conjunctivitis caused by organisms producing pus, esp. gonococci.

seasonal conjunctivitis

Allergic inflammation of the conjunctiva that occurs because of exposure to pollens, grasses, and other antigens.

vernal conjunctivitis

Allergic conjunctivitis associated with a papillary response, itching, thick, ropy discharge; common in young patients, esp. males.