There are several bacteria which normally live on the surface of the eye and surrounding areas, such as different strains of Streptococcus, Staphylococcus and Corynebacterium. These bacteria may become harmful for the person if there happen to be some problems with defense mechanisms of the body or the bacteria themselves change. There might be some problem with the epithelial cells of the conjunctiva or something that has happened to blood vessels of the conjunctiva.
Bacterial infections of the eye including bacterial conjunctivitis are very common all over the world and may affect people of both sexes. Some infections are often found in sexually active people and newborns exposed to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) during the birth process.
When the bacteria infect the mucous membrane of the surface of the eye (the conjunctiva) the person experiences bacterial conjunctivitis. This is usually harmless condition, but it may become more serious problem, especially if there is some underlying systemic disease or disorder. Bacterial conjunctivitis usually affects healthy people, who have been in contact with some already infected individuals or those who are suffering from sinusitis. Additionally, some patients might have been exposed to STDs at birth or suffer from immunodeficiency and are, therefore, at risk to develop bacterial conjunctivitis.
To diagnose this problem, doctors usually take some conjunctival scrapings and cultures for laboratory research, while in order to treat this problem, doctors may use some topical antibiotic drugs. Infections of the eye caused by bacteria such as Chlamydia or Neisseria gonorrhoeae (also N.gonorrhoeae) are commonly treated with some systemic antibiotics and certain cases of bacterial conjunctivitis may need surgical procedures. Surgery is indicated only for bacterial conjunctivitis associated with sinusitis, hordeolum or obstruction of nasolacrimal duct.
Hospitalization is also very rare and needed only for some other reasons. Hyperacute bacterial conjunctivitis, sometimes seen in Neisseria infections, may have to be treated in hospital environment. Since entire cornea cannot be visualized in these patients, there could be corneal ulceration present, so they are basically treated in hospitals. Doctors recommend proper hygiene, some topical antibiotic drugs as well as isolation in these cases.
What to Expect from Bacterial Conjunctivitis?
Bacterial conjunctivitis is in most cases easily dealt with and there are no further problems associated with this condition afterwards. However, patients suffering from Chlamydia or N.gonorrhoeae infection may experience certain health complications. These bacteria are considered to be extremely pathogenic and if the infection is not diagnosed and treated on time, they might lead to sepsis (serious infection of the blood), meningitis, otitis media or pneumonia, especially in newborns. In some cases, N.gonorrhoeae infection may even be fatal.