Ophthalmia neonatorum (gonococcal)

What is Ophthalmia Neonatorum (gonococcal)?

Ophthalmia neonatorum (gonococcal) is a type of eye infection caused by the gonococcal bacteria in newborn babies. It is one of the most serious newborn eye infections and, if left untreated, can cause blindness. This infection occurs mostly in the first week after birth.

Gonococcal ophthalmia is acquired when bacteria pass from an infected mother’s vagina into the baby’s eyes during delivery. This bacteria can also spread if the baby is exposed to infected material after birth, such as hands, bedding, or other surfaces with the bacteria present.

Symptoms of Ophthalmia Neonatorum (gonococcal):

  • Red, swollen eyes
  • Excessive tears
  • Crusting of eyelids or lashes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Pain

Treatment of Ophthalmia Neonatorum (gonococcal):

The infection is usually treated immediately with antibiotic eye drops or ointment. Delaying treatment will increase the risk of vision loss and long-term eye damage. The antibiotic course usually lasts for 1-2 weeks.

Once the infection is treated, parents should follow up with their pediatric eye doctor to ensure the infection has gone away completely and monitor the eye for any changes or vision loss.

Prevention of Ophthalmia Neonatorum (gonococcal):

It is important for the expecting mother to receive an eye exam during pregnancy. If the mother has any signs of gonorrhea, she should be treated promptly to prevent gonococcal ophthalmia.

Newborns should receive drops of antibiotic into their eyes immediately after birth to prevent infection. In some parts of the world, the newborn baby's eyes are routinely treated with antibiotic eye drops or ointment.