Conjunctivitis causes

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [3]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Ogheneochuko Ajari, MB.BS, MS [4], Sara Mehrsefat, M.D. [5]


Common causes of conjunctivitis include bacteria, viruses, and environmental factors.[1] Viral conjunctivitis is the most common cause of infectious conjunctivitis both overall and in the adult population. Bacterial conjunctivitis is the second most common cause and is responsible for the majority of cases in children. Allergic conjunctivitis is the most frequent cause, affecting 15% to 40% of the population. Noninfectious conjunctivitis includes keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye syndrome) and superior limbic keratoconjunctivitis may cause by inflammation secondary to immune-mediated diseases or mechanical irritation.[2]


Viral conjunctivitis

Bacterial conjunctivitis[3]

Neonatal conjunctivitis[4][5]

Allergic conjunctivitis


Irritative Conjunctivitis

Causes by Organ System

Cardiovascular Kawasaki disease, plasminogen deficiency
Chemical / poisoning Acetaldehyde, acetic acid, acetic anhydride, acetylcarbromal, ammonia, anisole, arsenic trioxide, arsenic, arsenicals, beryllium, boric acid, box jellyfish poisoning, calcium sulfate, caterpillar poisoning, chemical irritation, chlorine dioxide, chloroacetophenone, cobra poisoning, CS gas, diethylene glycol monobutyl ether, dimethylamine, ether, ethylene oxide, euphorbiaceae, green lynx spider poisoning, hydrogen sulfide, lewisite, mayapple poisoning, metaldehyde, methylene diisocyanate, osmium, phosgene oxime, propylene glycol dinitrate, sulfuric acid, sulfuryl fluoride, toluene diisocyanate, vanadium, xylene
Dermatologic Acute febrile neutrophilic dermatosis, Behcet's disease, cicatricial pemphigoid, dyskeratosis congenita, erythema multiformae, euphorbiaceae, Kawasaki disease, Kindler syndrome, lepidopterism, leprosy, ocular cicatricial pemphigoid, psoriatic arthritis, rosacea, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, Sweet's syndrome, xeroderma pigmentosum
Drug Side Effect Acetylcarbromal, apraclonidine, artemether and lumefantrin, brimonidine tartrate and timolol maleate, cetuximab, clomethiazole, cyclopentolate, cytarabine, cytosine arabinose syndrome , desmopressin, dexamethasone, dimercaprol, dipivefrin, dornase alfa, doxorubicin hydrochloride, epirubicin hydrochloride, erythromycin, etretinate, flurbiprofen, fluticasone (spray), fosaprepitant, furfural, gadopentetate, galsulfase, hydroquinone, latanoprost,meclofenamate, medrysone,melarsoprol, methocarbamol, metipranolol, morpholine, moxifloxacin ophthalmic, nitisinone, orache (atriplex), pemetrexed, penicillium, pentamidine isethionate, pyridoxine hydrochloride, quinone, rasagiline, rifampin, rifapentin, secukinumab, sertraline, silver nitrate drops, tetracycline, thallous chloride tl 201, tocilizumab, travoprost
Ear Nose Throat Cogan syndrome, oral allergy syndrome
Endocrine No underlying causes
Environmental Aesculus pollen, alder, dust mite, environmental pollution,smog, smoke
Gastroenterologic No underlying causes
Genetic Crouzon syndrome, dyskeratosis congenita, familial cold urticaria, Job syndrome, Kindler syndrome, type II tyrosinemia, xeroderma pigmentosum, x-linked agammaglobulinaemia
Hematologic Hemorrhage, plasminogen deficiency, x-linked agammaglobulinaemia
Iatrogenic No underlying causes
Infectious Disease Acanthamoeba, adenovirus, alternaria, aspergillus, aureobasidium, candida albicans, cat scratch disease, chikungunya fever, chlamydia, cladosporium, congenital chlamydia, congenital gonorrhea, coxsackie virus, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, enterovirus 70, epicoccum, fusarium, gonorrhea, haemophilus influenzae, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, helminth infections, helminthosporium, herpes simplex, herpes virus 2, herpes zoster, human enterovirus A, Kikuchi disease, Koch-Weeks conjunctivitis, leprosy, leptospirosis, listeria monocytogenes, Lyme disease, measles, molluscum contagiosum, moraxella catarrhalis, mucor, neisseria gonorrhoeae, neisseria meningiditis, Newcastle disease, non-specific urethritis, omsk hemorrhagic fever, onchocerciasis, pasteurella multocida, pediculosis ciliaris, pfiesteria piscicida, picornavirus, pseudomonas aeruginosa, psittacosis, respiratory syncytial virus, rhizopus, rosacea, rubella, sabia virus, serratia, smut, staphylococcus aureus, streptococcus pneumoniae, the clap, toxic-shock syndrome, trachoma, tularemia, viral conjunctivitis
Musculoskeletal / Ortho Burns, Crouzon Syndrome , polychondritis
Neurologic 7th cranial nerve disorder, facial nerve palsy
Nutritional / Metabolic Type II tyrosinemia, pyridoxine deficiency
Obstetric/Gynecologic No underlying causes
Oncologic Conjunctival squamous cell carcinoma, gestational trophoblastic neoplasia
Opthalmologic Allergic conjunctivitis, Angelucci's syndrome, bacterial conjunctivitis, blepharitis, Cogan syndrome, conjunctival squamous cell carcinoma, contact lens, corneal abrasion, dacryocystitis, ectropion, entropion, epidemic keratoconjunctivitis, familial cold urticaria, follicular conjunctivitis, giant papillary conjunctivitis, keratoconjunctivitis sicca, lacrimal canaliculitis, ligneous conjunctivitis, ocular cicatricial pemphigoid, ocular rosacea, ophthalmia neonatorum, phlyctenular keratoconjunctivitis, Theodore's superior limbic keratoconjunctivitis, trachoma, vernal conjunctivitis, vernal keratoconjunctivitis, viral conjunctivitis
Overdose / Toxicity No underlying causes
Psychiatric No underlying causes
Pulmonary Granulomatosis with polyangiitis, hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, Wegener's granulomatosis
Renal / Electrolyte Wegener's granulomatosis
Rheum / Immune / Allergy Allergic conjunctivitis, allergy, Behcet disease, cicatricial pemphigoid, common variable immunodeficiency, familial cold urticaria, familial hibernian fever, granulomatosis with polyangiitis, hay fever, hypersensitivity to pollen, Job syndrome, mold allergy, ocular cicatricial pemphigoid, oral allergy syndrome, polychondritis, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, Reiter's syndrome, relapsing polychondritis, severe combined immunodeficiency, sicca syndrome, Sjogren's syndrome, TNF receptor associated periodic syndrome, Wegener's granulomatosis, x-linked agammaglobulinaemia
Sexual No underlying causes
Trauma Blunt injury, burns, penetrating trauma, trauma
Urologic Non-specific urethritis
Dental Crouzon syndrome
Miscellaneous American feverfew, ash juniper tree, ash tree, beech tree, bermuda grass, birch tree, box elder tree, canary grass, capeweed, cocklebur, cypress tree, daisy, dandelion, elm tree, foreign body, goosefoot, guayule, hemp, hickory tree, hornbeam tree, horse chestnut tree, johnson grass, kentucky bluegrass, maple tree, marshelder, monteroy pine tree, mountain cedar tree, mugwort tree, oak tree, olea tree, olive tree, orchard grass, pecan trees, pigweed, plane tree, pollen, poplar tree, ragweed, rapeseed oil, redtop grass, ryegrass, sunflower, tilia tree, timothy grass, tumble weed, velvet grass, wall pellitory, walnut tree, white cedar tree, willow tree

Causes in Alphabetical Order


  1. National Eye Institute (2015). [1] Accessed on June 23, 2016
  2. Azari AA, Barney NP (2013). "Conjunctivitis: a systematic review of diagnosis and treatment". JAMA. 310 (16): 1721–9. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.280318. PMC 4049531. PMID 24150468.
  3. name= Bacterial Conjunctivitis > Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2015). [2] Accessed on June 23, 2016
  4. Mallika P, Asok T, Faisal H, Aziz S, Tan A, Intan G (2008). "Neonatal conjunctivitis - a review". Malays Fam Physician. 3 (2): 77–81. PMC 4170304. PMID 25606121.
  5. Woods, Charles R. "Gonococcal infections in neonates and young children." Seminars in pediatric infectious diseases. Vol. 16. No. 4. WB Saunders, 2005.
  6. Barabino S, Dana MR (2007). "Dry eye syndromes". Chem Immunol Allergy. 92: 176–84. doi:10.1159/000099268. PMID 17264493.

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