Is Conjunctivitis Overtreated?

February 28, 2009

Last time I checked, conjunctivitis is usually viral, and even when bacterial, is a self-limited disease (except if due to STD’s).  Why are so many doctors, even ophthalmologists, still treating this disease, especially with drops like Zymar?! I mean, if you feel compelled to treat, give something like Sulfa or Bacitracin which costs a few pennies. When I see a patient with conjunctivitis, I tell them: “I’m going to give you what I give to my own children!” “What, doctor?” “Nothing!- and I bet you a million dollars you’ll be better in a week or so!” Fee free to use this line on your own patients…




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4 Responses to “Is Conjunctivitis Overtreated?”

  • Apurav

    I went down with conjunctivitis in sep 2009. I have been prescribed Zymar and then FML and then solodex and still struggling with it. Its jul 2010 now. and when i stop taking solodex i see unclear view like stained oily glass. Docs say traces of the virus are still left and if not cured could result in permanent vision loss. Can u guys suggest me something?

  • Dr Durkee

    Good job Dr Weitzner! That is exactly what we should be telling our patients. When did patients learn that they know more than the doc? I gave antibiotics to a mom who insisted on them (even though there was a lot of viral conj. around). the child had a reaction to the antibiotics and came close to a corneal injury. Please trust us, we really are trying to help.

  • Dr. Weitzner

    1. since the vast majority of the time conjuctivitis is viral, giving any antibiotic does no good at all, right?
    2. what complications are you talking about? i don’t think i have ever seen complications from conjunctivitis in my career, except for very debilitated, elderly people who might progress to pre-septal, or those who have a trab.
    3. most conjunctivitis in my experience, even when bacterial, is pretty mild- a little redness, a little crusting.

    so, again, my point is not that we should NEVER treat it. of course, if the eyes are very swollen, there’s lots of discharge, very uncomfortable patient, very elderly/sick patient- of course i treat that! But since the vast majority of the time it’s viral, or when bacterial is quite mild, then treating it is over-kill and just contributes to antibiotic resistance.

  • Dr Pitambar

    U R very furious patient is to you for relieving his or her symptoms like pain , watering .swelling ete and you are sending him back without treat…what about complications if occured who will be responsible…….mind it conj. is not only be treated we also recommend and prescibe the treat…prevention of complications ….so please don”t be oversmart….