Gonococcal infections of eye usually occur in neonates. It occurs inside the eyelid of the eyes. The gonococcal infections are caused by the bacteria Neisseria.gonorhoeae. The N.gonorhoeae bacteria are also called as gonococcus. It is a gram negative bacterium which looks like a kidney bean. Gonococcal infections can occur predominantly in infants born to mothers with gonococcal infections.
The gonococcal infections are generally caused from the infected mother to the infant during delivery. In adults it can be caused by the contact with the infected genital secretions which passes from hands to the eye.
The microscopic observation of this gram negative diplococci and isolation of it in agar culture is the laboratory method of diagnosis. The diagnosis of infection can also be performed by the use of Gram stain method.
Conjunctivitis is the first symptom of the gonococcal infections. The watery fluid is frequently discharged from the eye and pus is formed. The symptoms may sometimes include pain in pelvic region, swelling of the eyelid, and inflammation in the eyes. The infection causes gonococcal conjunctivitis which can lead to perforation of the cornea or melting of the cornea. The symptoms of gonococcal conjunctivitis are seen in the neonatal baby 2-5 days after birth. The swelling in the eyes of the neonatal baby symptoms can progress further into corneal ulcerations if not treated immediately. The gonococcal infections in neonates can cause blindness just after some hours of infection. The blindness can occur in both neonates and adults rapidly. This type of blindness occurring due to gonococcal infections is irreversible. Hence the neonatal child should be given immediate antibiotic treatment to prevent the spread of the gonococcal infections to the other eye and its progress toward blindness.
The spread of eye infections is rapid and precautions must be taken to avoid it. Frequent washing of hands of the patients and their family members is one of the precautionary measures that can be taken. The immediate administration of drops in the eyes can prevent the infection after birth.
The inhibition of gonococcal infections is effective when the antibiotic ceftriaxone is administered intravenously or intra muscularly into the patient. The infants are given ceftriaxone with two doses per day for seven days. In neonatal gonococcal infections, erythromycin can be applied as an ointment to the eyes. The treatment with erythromycin can result in gastrointestinal disorders in neonates and symptoms of this disorder cannot be neglected. If symptoms are treated on onset of the disorder, the eyesight can be resumed fully for neonates and adults.
The use of silver nitrate for the prevention of gonococcal infections in infants can cause chemical conjunctivitis which diminishes after one or two days.