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Exploring the Different Types of Prescription Eye Drops for Pink Eye

Gina Walters


prescription eye drops for pink eye

Pink Eye or Conjunctivitis is a common name for a group of eye diseases brought on by bacteria, viruses, allergies, and other irritants.  

Treatment for each form of Conjunctivitis varies, depending upon the type you have. 

Some people might go for over-the-counter (OTC) eye drops and home remedies.

While others might go for much safer prescription-based antibiotics or other medications.

Eye drops are generally the first line of treatment for Pink Eye.

Read further to learn about the several effective prescription eye drops for Pink Eye.

Different prescription eye drops for Pink Eye

Pink Eye, also known as Conjunctivitis, is the inflammation of the conjunctiva. 

The conjunctiva is the thin tissue that covers the sclera (white portion of the eyeball) and lines the inside of the eyelid.

This is a common eye condition that can cause red eyes, tears, and discomfort in the eyes. 

But, Pink Eye usually goes away on its own in a few days, but if the problem persists, you must consult a doctor.

There are three primary forms of Conjunctivitis depending on the allergen causing it: Bacterial pink eye, Viral pink eye, and Allergic pink eye. 

Your ophthalmologist considers both your symptoms and the cause of the Conjunctivitis while determining the best Pink Eye treatment for you.

Explore the difference between viral and bacterial pink eye with our article: Viral vs Bacterial Pink Eye: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Pink Eye can cause irritation and itchiness. Reach out to your doctor immediately if the symptoms persist.

Prescription eye drops for viral Pink Eye

Doctor's prescription requiredSource: Africa's_Image
Doctor’s prescription required

Viral Conjunctivitis is the most prevalent kind of Conjunctivitis brought on by a virus like the flu or the common cold. 

Viral Conjunctivitis is often mild in nature. 

Without medical treatment, the infection normally goes away in 7 to 14 days with no lasting effects.

There aren’t many treatment options for treating viral Pink Eye.  

Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses; thus, they won’t help in treating Viral Conjunctivitis.

You can use artificial tears, or anti-inflammatory eye drops like Aciclovir to address the symptoms of Viral Pink Eye.

Want to know more about the various pink eye remedies? Read our article: Viral Pink Eye Remedy Tips: From Natural to OTC Solutions

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Prescription eye drops for bacterial Pink Eye

Bacterial Conjunctivitis or Pink Eye occurs due to an infection caused by bacteria.

Treatment with antibiotics is not necessary for mild Bacterial Conjunctivitis. 

The infection usually gets better in two to five days without any treatment. 

However, it might take two to three weeks for the infection to go away entirely.

For Bacterial Conjunctivitis, your doctor can recommend an antibiotic, often used topically as eye drops or ointment. 

Antibiotics may lessen the duration of the disease, lessen its effects, and stop it from spreading to other people. 

The type of antibiotics your doctor prescribes and the severity of your condition will determine the dosage suitable for you.

Although most people respond to antibiotics well, sometimes they might cause irritation in the eye, leading to increased redness.

The most commonly prescribed antibiotics for bacterial Pink Eye include Ciprofloxacin, Ofloxacin, Azithromycin, and Levofloxacin.

Pink Eye can be caused by bacteria, virus, and allergens. Read our article: Uncovering Pink Eye Causes: A Comprehensive Guide to know more.

Prescription eye drops for allergic Pink Eye

Allergic-pink-eyeSource: Africa's_Images
Allergic pink eye

Allergy-induced Conjunctivitis can be brought on by dust, pollen, pet hair, and other environmental factors. 

This type of Pink Eye is not communicable and causes a burning sensation in the eyes, even making them watery and itchy. 

Topical antihistamines, topical mast cell inhibitors, and topical corticosteroids are the most often used eye drops for Allergic Conjunctivitis.

Topical antihistamines: This class of medications is highly effective for Allergic Conjunctivitis used twice daily.

The medication prevents the body from producing Histamine, a chemical released when it comes into contact with an irritant, such as dust, pollen, mold, or pet dander. 

This, in turn, reduces pain, irritation, and inflammation. However, antihistamines could lead to dry eyes.

Commonly prescribed antihistamines include Bepotastine, Emedastine, and Epinastine.

Topical mast cell inhibitors: Topical mast cell inhibitors, such as Lodoxamide, Nedocromil, and Pemirolast, work by stopping the body from producing Histamine as an allergic response.

It further helps in overcoming symptoms of Allergic Conjunctivitis. 

Mast-cell stabilizers can take up to two weeks to start functioning and are meant to be used as a preventative measure rather than proper treatment.

They are well tolerated with no serious side effects and can be taken two to four times a day for several months.

Topical corticosteroids: These eye drops are usually used in case of severe Allergic Conjunctivitis.

Topical corticosteroids like Loteprednol etabonate, Dexamethasone, and Prednisolone aid in reducing swelling, redness, and itchiness from the eyes.

Pink Eye symptoms can be overcome gradually; however, sometimes they need to be managed with medications. Read our article: Finding the Right Pink Eye Medicine: Understand Your Need to know more.

Some eye drops of Pink Eye may cause side effects. Hence, do not self-medicate. Always talk to an ophthalmologist before taking any medications.


Pink Eye, commonly known as Conjunctivitis, is caused by bacteria, viruses, allergies, and other irritants.

Depending on the type of the causative agent, Pink Eye can be categorized as Viral Pink Eye, Bacterial Pink Eye, and Allergic Pink Eye.

Usually, Pink Eye isn’t a serious condition and does not always need medical treatment.

Most of the time, the symptoms of Pink Eye vanish on their own.

However, if the symptoms persist, your doctor may recommend different prescription eye drops for Pink Eye to soothe the symptoms.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Do you need a prescription for Pink Eye drops?

Yes, generally, a doctor’s prescription is needed to buy eye drops for Pink Eyes. 
However, over-the-counter medications for pink eyes such as artificial tears are also available to treat the condition. 
But, their effectiveness can not be guaranteed as these OTC products are not FDA-approved.

What are the prescription eye drops used for Pink Eye?

Antibiotics or antiviral eye drops are frequently prescribed for treating Pink Eye, depending on the underlying cause of the infection.
Ciprofloxacin, Tobramycin, and Azithromycin are frequently used antibiotics for Pink Eye.

For relieving Pink Eye symptoms, how frequently should I use prescription eye drops?

Your doctor will determine how often you should use the prescribed eye drop for Pink Eye, depending upon your condition. 
You should take them as directed by your doctor, which may vary from using several times a day or every few hours.

Do prescription eye drops have any possible side effects when used for Pink Eye?

Depending on the medication type, side effects might differ. 
Temporary stinging, burning, or impaired vision are common side effects of eye drops used for Pink Eye.
Reach out to your doctor immediately if any severe side effects occur.

Can I combine prescription eye drops for Pink Eye with over-the-counter (OTC) eye drops?

Before combining over-the-counter and prescription eye drops, it is recommended to speak with your doctor. 
Some over-the-counter eye drops may affect the working of the prescription eye drops, thus worsening your condition.

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