Conjunctivitis: Information for Ophthalmic Care Settings

Infection Prevention Measures

Standard Precautions are required in the care of all patients at all times.

  • Hand hygiene:
    • Perform before and after all patient encounters, including instillation of eye medication
    • Use soap and warm water – rub for at least 15 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer and rub hands until dry
  • Personal protective equipment:
    • Gloves for contact with mucous membranes (including eyes), non-intact skin if the patient exhibits signs of infection, or when contact with blood or body fluids is possible
    • Mask and face shield or eye protection when splashing or spraying of blood or body fluids is possible

Patient Examination Area

  • Designate specific examination rooms for patients presenting with eye infections, if possible 
  • Clean and disinfect potentially contaminated surfaces (per manufacturer instructions for application and contact time) after the patient is discharged, including:
    • Exam chair
    • Chin rest
    • Head rim
    • Hand grips

Equipment and Instruments

  • Use disposable examination materials when possible
  • All surgical instruments must be properly sterilized after each use
  • Reusable instruments used for exams that touch mucous membranes of the eye should be subjected to high-level disinfection or sterilization
    • Instruments include, but are not limited to, slit-lamps, tonometers, diagnostic contact lenses and treatment contact lenses

Medication and Dressings

  • Dispose of swabs and tissues used in the instillation of eye drops immediately
  • Dispose of soiled dressings immediately after dressing change
  • Single-use medication vials should be used when possible        
    • If multi-use eye drop vials are used, the vial must not have contact with the patient
    • If the bottle does contact the patient’s eye, it must be discarded immediately

If you have further questions or to report cases you can call the Minnesota Department of Health during normal business hours: 651-201-5414 or 1-877-676-5414.

Updated Friday, April 18, 2014 at 12:11PM