Medicine for Pink Eye
Medicines to Treat Bacterial Pink Eye
Unlike viral pink eye, medications do appear to speed up healing in bacterial conjunctivitis.
For this type of pink eye, antibiotic drops or ointment are prescribed. Some commonly prescribed antibiotics include:
- Erythromycin ophthalmic ointment
- Gentamycin ophthalmic ointment (Gentak®) or solution (Gentasol™)
- Sulfacetamide ophthalmic drops (Sulf-10®, Bleph®-10, Sulamyd®)
- Polymyxin-trimethoprim (Polytrim®)
- Tobramycin ophthalmic ointment (Tobrex®) or solution (Tobrex®, AKTob®).
Other prescribed antibiotics may include:
- Ciprofloxacin drops (Ciloxan®)
- Ofloxacin drops (Ocuflox®)
- Levofloxacin drops (Quixin®)
- Gatifloxacin drops (Zymar®)
- Moxifloxacin drops (Vigamox®)
- Azithromycin drops (AzaSite®).
Treatment is generally for five to seven days, depending on which antibiotic is prescribed.
If you are prescribed an antibiotic ointment, apply it inside the lower eyelid. Your vision may stay blurry for up to 20 minutes. For antibiotic drops, pull the lower lid down gently, look up, and place a drop between the lower eyelid and the eyeball. Close the lid for a few seconds.
You should start seeing a decrease in redness, discharge, and irritation after one to two days. If symptoms get worse, make sure to contact your healthcare provider.
Bothersome pink eye symptoms caused by allergies (allergic conjunctivitis) are often treated with medicines.
People with a sudden onset of symptoms may find relief with over-the-counter antihistamine/decongestant drops, such as Ocuhist, Naphcon-A, and Visine AC.
People with conjunctivitis from seasonal (i.e., hay fever) or year-round allergies may be prescribed a combination antihistamine/mast cell stabilizer eyedrop, such as:
Antihistamines taken by mouth also may be recommended. These are most helpful when taken to prevent allergic conjunctivitis in the first place and may be used to treat symptoms after they have started, although it may take several days to see the full benefits.
Some antihistamines are more likely to cause drowsiness, so they can be taken at bedtime to decrease nighttime itching. This includes Benadryl® (diphenhydramine hydrochloride).
Other antihistamines are less sedating. Prescription antihistamines that cause less drowsiness include:
Claritin® (loratadine) and Zyrtec® (cetirizine) are also nonsedating antihistamines. They are available without a prescription. Cetirizine does cause drowsiness slightly more often than the other antihistamines mentioned previously.
In some severe cases, steroid eyedrops, such as ketorolac ophthalmic solution (Acular®), may be recommended to treat eye allergy symptoms.