Acute bacterial conjunctivitis is an infection of the eye in which one or both eyes become red with associated discomfort. The condition is not normally serious and in most cases clears up without treatment.
People with acute conjunctivitis are often given antibiotics, usually in the form of eye drops or ointment, to speed recovery. However,the benefits of antibiotics for the treatment of bacterial conjunctivitis have been questioned. A review of randomised clinical trials comparing antibiotic eye drops to placebo concluded that antibiotics can speed up the resolution. However, the benefits are less clear when the results of trials conducted exclusively in community GP practices are considered, since these patients tend to have a less severe form of conjunctivitis than would be expected in hospital practice.