Eye conditions account for 2–5% of all consultations in general practice.1 One-third of these eye problems (equivalent to around 13–14 cases per 1,000 population per year) are cases of infective conjunctivitis, normally a self-limiting condition.2,3 Traditionally, topical antibacterials have been prescribed for people with acute infective conjunctivitis.4 In 2005, chloramphenicol eye drops became available over the counter (OTC) from UK pharmacies as a treatment for conjunctivitis, and there is evidence that the overall use of chloramphenicol for this indication has increased since then.5 Here we review the evidence on the efficacy of antibacterials in acute infective conjunctivitis. We also offer practical information and advice for prescribers and community pharmacists on managing patients with the condition.
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