Title

Acute infective conjunctivitis in primary care: Who needs antibiotics?

Date of this Version

8-30-2011

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Published version

Jefferis, J., Perera, R., Everitt, H., van Weert, H., Rietveld, R., Glasziou, P., Rose, P. (2011). Acute infective conjunctivitis in primary care: Who needs antibiotics? An individual patient data meta-analysis. British Journal of General Practice, 61(590), e542-8

Access the journal

© British Journal of General Practice, 2011

ISSN

1478-5242

Abstract

Background: Acute infective conjunctivitis is a common problem in primary care, traditionally managed with topical antibiotics. A number of clinical trials have questioned the benefit of topical antibiotics for patients with acute infective conjunctivitis

Aim: To determine the benefit of antibiotics for the treatment of acute infective conjunctivitis in primary care and which subgroups benefit most.

Design: An individual patient data meta-analysis.

Method: Relevant trials were identified and individual patient data gathered for meta-analysis and subgroup analysis.

Results: Three eligible trials were identified. Individual patient data were available from all primary care trials and data were available for analysis in 622 patients. Eighty per cent (246/308) of patients who received antibiotics and 74% (233/314) of controls were cured at day 7. There was a significant benefit of antibiotics versus control for cure at seven days in all cases combined (risk difference 0.08, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.01 to 0.14). Subgroups that showed a significant benefit from antibiotics were patients with purulent discharge (risk difference 0.09, 95% CI = 0.01 to 0.17) and patients with mild severity of red eye (risk difference 0.10, 95% CI = 0.02 to 0.18), while the type of control used (placebo drops versus nothing) showed a statistically significant interaction (P=0.03).

Conclusion: Acute conjunctivitis seen in primary care can be thought of as a self-limiting condition, with most patients getting better regardless of antibiotic therapy. Patients with purulent discharge or a mild severity of red eye may have a small benefit from antibiotics. Prescribing practices need to be updated, taking into account these results.

 

This document has been peer reviewed.