Eye Culture

Test Mnemonic


CPT Codes

  • 87070 - QTY (1)



Performing Laboratory

Cleveland Clinic Laboratories

Specimen Requirements

Volume Type Container Collect Temperature Transport Temperature Special Instructions
UnspecifiedFluidSterile containerAmbientAmbient 
UnspecifiedSee noteSterile containerAmbientAmbientScrapings. Place directly on culture media plates. Media is available throught the Microbiology laboratory for direct inoculation, particualarly for corneal scrapings.
UnspecifiedSee noteSterile containerAmbientAmbientDrainage


Environmental Condition Description
Ambient24 hours

Days Performed

Sun - Sat

Turnaround Time

7 days


Name Description
Culture, Identification 

Reference Range

Special Info

Media and incubation conditions are employed for the recovery of aerobic bacteria. For conjunctival specimens, sample each eye with separate swabs (premoistened with sterile saline) by rolling over conjunctiva. When only one eye is infected, sampling both can help distinguish indigenous microflora from true pathogens. For corneal scrapings, scrape ulcers and lesions with sterile spatula and inoculate scraping directly onto media. Prepare smears by rubbing material onto 1-2 cm area of slide. For vitreous fluid, prepare eye for needle aspiration of fluid and transfer fluid to sterile tube. If culture is positive, identification will be performed on clinically significant organisms at an additional charge. Identification CPT codes that may apply include: 87077, 87106, 87107, 87153, 87158. Antimicrobial susceptibilities are performed when indicated, and the following CPT codes may apply: 87181, 87184, 87185, 87186.

Clinical Info

Conjunctivitis is usually caused by bacteria or viruses associated with upper respiratory tract infections. Organisms comprising skin and mucous membrane flora (eg, coagulase negative staphylococci, diphtheroids, viridans group streptococci) are generally considered nonpathogenic when recovered from the conjunctival mucosa, but pathogenic if recovered from the surface or interior of the eye (especially in patients who have had cataract or LASIK surgery). Corneal infections (eg, keratitis) are usually associated with ocular trauma, complications of cataract surgery, or improper care/use of contact lens. Endophthalmitis, diagnosed by aspiration of vitreous or aqueous fluid or biopsy, may result from exogenous introduction of pathogens into the eye during trauma or post-surgery, as well as endogenous spread from the bloodstream. Anaerobic cultures require a separate order.