What are the Different Types of Eye Drops for Pink Eye?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 15 October 2019
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Pink eye, also known as conjunctivitis, is characterized by the inflammation of the outside area of an eye and can be caused by various problems. The type of eye drops for pink eye appropriate for dealing with a specific instance of the condition depends on the root cause. For example, if the cause is viral, for which only symptoms can be addressed, artificial tears are often applied. If the cause is an allergy, topical steroid eye drops for pink eye may be recommended. In addition, chemical contamination may require the eyes to be washed out with a saline solution or a local anesthetic to be applied, and a bacterial infection may require antibiotic eye drops for pink eye.

In addition to its use when dealing with the symptoms of viral pink eye, artificial tears are often used along with topical steroids to treat allergic pink eye. Artificial tears are essentially what the name applies: a substance designed to be tear-like and provide lubrication for the eyes. They do not have antibiotic properties and are not considered a medication and are usually available over the counter. The goal of artificial tears is to eliminate eye dryness, and they are often used to address eye dryness associated with wearing contact lenses. Topical steroids can be used to directly treat the symptoms of inflammation that result from allergic pink eye.


Chemical conjunctivitis, a serious injury that can result in permanent scarring or eye damage, is often dealt with in part by using saline eye drops for pink eye. Saline is essentially a sterile saltwater solution. This solution has a variety of other medical uses, such as clearing out the nasal cavity.

When coping with the effects of chemically caused pink eye, local anesthetic eye drops are often used. Local anesthetics work by acting on the nerve pathways and reducing pain and sensation. The potential negative side effects of local aneshetics include permanent nerve damage.

Bacterial pink eye is often treated with topical antibiotic eye drops if the condition is severe and persistent. Antibiotics are commonly recognized as a treatment that is taken orally by ingesting a pill, but ointments, eye drops, and intravenous treatment through a vein are all ways to apply an antibiotic. Common side effects of antibiotic treatments include problems associated with the destruction of good bacteria in different parts of the body. For instance, gastrointestinal problems can be caused by the destruction of good bacteria in the gut.


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Post 3

@burcidi-- They don't give antibiotic eye drops every time for pink eye treatment. If there is no apparent irritant or allergy, the doctor will assume that it's an infection and will have to give antibiotic eye drops for that.

But if the doctor knows that the conjuctivitis is allergic or due to an irritant, he will most likely just give an anti-inflammatory eye drop to soothe the eyes.

Sometimes doctors also give two eye drops, one is just sterile tears to hydrate and soothe the eye and the other is an anti-inflammatory ey drop or an antibiotic eye drop.

Post 2

Oh, so conjuctivitis is just inflammation. I thought that conjuctivitis means an eye infection and that it can only be treated with antibiotics.

Then why do doctors always give eye drops with antibiotics in them if they don't know if there is an infection or not?

I've had conjuctivitis several times and as far as I know, I was given antibiotic eye drops to use every time.

Post 1

When I had pink eye, my doctor gave me an antibiotic eye drop and a steroid eye drop. They worked very well, I use them for a week and the pink eye was gone.

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