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an acute purulent inflammation of the mucous membrane (conjunctiva) of the eyes caused by gonococci. There are two forms of gonorrheal conjunctivitis, one occurring in newborn infants and the other in adults.
Most infections of gonorrheal conjunctivitis in newborn infants occur when the head of the fetus passes through the birth canal of a mother infected with gonorrhea. The disease appears after the second or third day of the infant’s life and is initially characterized by severe swelling of both eyelids; in another two or three days, there is abundant discharge of pus. In severe cases the cornea may become infected and an ulcer forms, which heals as a scar and leaves a cataract. In some cases the disease leads to blindness. Sometimes a similar disease occurs in newborn infants, caused by a virus. In contrast to gonorrheal conjunctivitis, this disease does not develop earlier than the fifth day of life, and its course is lower and less severe; the cornea is never involved.
Gonorrheal conjunctivitis in adults occurs when the gonococci are carried into the eye from the urogenital tract by the hands or by objects handled by the gonorrhea patient. The course of the disease in adults is much more severe than in newborn infants; only one eye is usually affected. Its treatment involves frequent irrigations of the eyes with weak solutions of potassium permanganate and the use of antibiotics.
Prophylaxis involves combating gonorrhea of the urogenital tract. Immediately after birth, newborn infants receive one drop of a 2 percent solution of silver nitrate or penicillin under the lid of each eye. Observance of the rules of personal hygiene helps prevent the disease in adults. When the process is unilateral, it is extremely important to prevent infection of the second eye; hence, a hermetically sealed bandage with a watch glass is placed over the healthy eye.
REFERENCEMnogotomnoe rukovodstvo po glaznym bolezniam, vol. 2, book 1. Moscow, 1960. Page 66.
M. L. KRASNOV