Efficacy of topical antibiotic therapy in acute conjunctivitis in children

Paul S. Lietman, Francis Gigliotti, J. Owen Hendley, James Morgan, Richard Michaels, Michael Dickens, Jacob Lohr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


We studied 102 children aged 1 month to 18 years in a randomized, double-blind trial designed to determine both the natural history of bacterial conjunctivitis and whether topical antibiotic therapy is beneficial. Affected eyes were treated four times a day for 7 days with drug (polymyxin-bacitracin ophthalmic ointment) or placebo. Eighty-four patients had proved bacterial conjunctivitis (Haemophilus influenzae 61, Streptococcus pneumoniae 22, both one); 66 of these received only topical therapy. By 3 to 5 days, 21 of 34 (62%) patients receiving topical antibiotic were clinically cured, whereas only nine of 32 (28%) patients given placebo were cured (P<0.02). By 8 to 10 days, 31 (91%) of the patients given antibiotic and 23 (72%) of the placebo group were cured (P=NS). The bacterial pathogen was eradicated by day 3 to 5 in 71% and by day 8 to 10 in 79% of patients given antibiotic, compared to 19% and 31% of the placebo group (P<0.001). Acute bacterial conjunctivitis is a self-limited disease, but topical antibiotic therapy with polymyxin-bacitracin shortens the duration of clinical disease and enhances eradication of the causative organism from the conjunctiva.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)623-626
Number of pages4
JournalThe Journal of pediatrics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1984

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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