Antibiotics versus placebo for acute bacterial conjunctivitis

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Acute bacterial conjunctivitis is frequently a self-limiting condition, but the use of antibiotics is associated with modestly improved rates of clinical and microbiological remission compared to placebo.

Acute bacterial conjunctivitis is an infective condition in which the eyes become red and inflamed. The condition is not normally serious and usually recedes spontaneously within about a week. People with acute conjunctivitis are often given antibiotics, usually as eye drops or ointment, to speed recovery. The benefits of antibiotics to the sufferer of conjunctivitis have been questioned. This review assesses the benefit and harm of antibiotic therapy in the management of acute bacterial conjunctivitis and findings suggest that the use of antibiotic eye drops is associated with modestly improved rates of clinical and microbiological remission in comparison to the use of placebo. Use of antibiotic eye drops should therefore be considered in order to speed the resolution of symptoms and infection.

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