Pinkeye Eye Drops: Best Antibiotic, Prescribed & OTC


Are you looking for a quick eye drops relief for conjunctivitis? We have for you some best eye drops for pinkeye including prescribed, antibiotics as well as over the counter (best OTC) options you can go for.

If you are wondering what eye drops treat pinkeye, it is worthwhile knowing that your choice will depend on what caused the condition in your special case.

There are those good for people whose condition is caused by allergic reactions, some will be good for viral conjunctivitis, while others are used for cases caused by a bacterial infection.

or instance, the antibiotic drops will be good for patients whose condition is caused by bacteria and might not help if the cause is an allergic reaction.

Prescription Eye drops for Pinkeye

The best way to treat conjunctivitis is to first see a doctor to determine its cause before he or she can give you the right drops to use or a prescription.

Depending on the cause, you can expect to be given tropical drops that can relieve the symptoms of combat some of the courses as well as some injections or oral medication.

Therefore, prescription drops for conjunctivitis are those that can only be bought after a qualified medical practitioner has checked you and recommended or prescribed them for you. You cannot buy them without a prescription.

Best Antibiotic

If you are suffering from conjunctivitis caused by bacteria, you might need antibiotic eye solution or drops, in addition to other medication that a doctor will prescribe to you. Antibiotics will work by killing the bacteria and/or inhibit its growth.

Some of the common prescription antibiotics for conjunctivitis or simply the best antibiotic pinkeye treatment drops include the following:

Polytrim Ophthalmic

Polytrim Ophthalmic contains two brands of antibiotics i.e. Polymyxin B and Trimethoprim. The later stops bacterial growth while the former kills bacteria.


Gentamicin Ophthalmic or Gentamicin Drops Ophthalmic is an antibiotic medication that belongs to the family of drugs called aminoglycoside antibiotics. It works by killing the bacteria in your eyes.

On its use, ensure you use it as directed by a physician. Some of the popular brand names include Garamycin, Gentak, among many others.


This is another good conjunctivitis solution or drop that belongs to the ophthalmic fluoroquinolone antibiotic it treats bacterial conjunctivitis as well as corneal ulcers.  It further helps in stopping further spread of the bacterial by killing bacteria that are susceptible while it stops the growth of others.


Vigamox Ophthalmic is a prescription antibiotic for bacterial conjunctivitis that belongs to the family antibiotics known as quinolone. Vigamox eye solution has proven for a broad spectrum bacteria that might cause this condition.


Sulfacetamide Sodium Ophthalmic is sulfa bacterial pinkeye infection that belongs to a family of medication known as sulfa antibiotics. It stops the growth of bacteria and it is specifically for eyes.

Sulfapred Ophthalmic

This medication is used to treat conjunctivitis caused by bacteria since it has sulfacetamide which is an antibiotic that stops bacteria growth while prednisolone or corticosteroid will help reduce inflammation. This is also a sulfa conjunctivitis medication.


Another common one is Prednisolone Acetate Ophthalmic. Common brands names including Pred Forte, Pred Mild. It has generic version such as prednisolone acetate. Prednisolone helps various symptoms of eye infection such as redness, swelling, and itching that can be caused injuring or inflammation. It prevents the release of body substances that often cause inflammation.

Patanol for conjunctivitis infection (olopatadine ophthalmic)

This eye solution or drops will only be prescribed for conjunctivitis if it is caused by allergic reactions. It will not be good for any other cause of conjunctivitis.  It helps in relieving some of the common symptoms caused by allergic reaction.

Steroid and Antibiotic 

These are prescription eye drops for pinkeye made by combining one or more types of antibiotics and various steroids. It comes as a suspension and ointments.  Steroids help in reducing inflammation while antibiotic will treat your bacterial infection. Generic steroid drops are also available.

The common steroids used include hydrocortisone, prednisolone, loteprednol, and dexamethasone while the common antibiotics used include tobramycin, bacitracin, neomycin, gentamycin and polymixin B. They come under various brands names such as Catapred, Blephamide, Poly- Tobradex, Pred-G, Isopto, Pred, Zylet among many others.

You need to use these drops 1-3 times a day and if you get the ointment, you need to apply a half an inch 3-4 times a day.  There are not sufficient studies to support the use of this medication during pregnancy.

Similarly, lactating mothers are only limited to using steroid-containing medication since it gets secreted in milk when they take pills or have injections. There are no adequate studies on the effect when used on your eyes.

Side effects include swelling, redness, irritation, and itching of your eyes. Rare side effects include cataract formation, optic nerve damages as well as glaucoma.

Other Common Prescription

Other commonly prescribed eye solutions and drops include the following:

  • Chloramphenicol – Often recommended for people with infections bacterial conjunctivitis
  • Fusidic acid – more commonly prescribed during pregnancy, to children and elderly people.

Best OTC or Non-Prescription

Over-the-counter pinkeye eye drops, at times known are OTC eye drops are medication which does not need a doctor’s or pharmacist’s prescription to buy them. They will be good in relieving the general symptoms that are caused by pinkeyes, such as inflammation, itching, or eye redness and other symptoms of eye infection and conditions such as dry eyes.

The OTC conjunctivitis medication can be classified into mainly artificial tears, ointments, antihistamines as well as a decongestant.  It is worthwhile to note that if you opt for over the counter medication for pinkeye, you will be relieving symptoms and not treating the condition especially for the bacterial infection.

Artificial Tears

These over the counter pinkeye treatment products are basically lubricant eye drops you can also buy to relieve the various symptoms. They are free of preservatives and safe for your eyes. Furthermore, synthetic water-based lubricants found in suspension or solutions used to ease some of the conjunctivitis symptoms. They can be good for people suffering from viral conjunctivitis by relieving the symptoms as you wait to improve.

Some of the best over the counter eye drops for pinkeye do contain antihistamines that can help relieve symptoms of conjunctivitis caused by allergic reactions. Some of the best OTC drops of conjunctivitis in this category of artificial tears include:

a. Similasan eye drops for pinkeye (Homeopathic eye drop)

Similasan Irritated Eye Relief is an over the counter homeopathic eye drop for pinkeye which is good in relieving the various symptoms of eye infections including those of conjunctivitis, dry, gritty, watering, burning or stings eyes.

Similasan homeopathic irritated eye relief drops are good for symptoms of this infection that might be related to your environment or viral conjunctivitis. Generally, these Similasan does not sting, burn or irritate your eyes. Although it is an OTC if you intend to use it for young kids whose age is below 2 years, ensure a doctor has seen them first.

According to [], Similasan products stimulate the body's natural defenses by utilizing "microdilutions" of natural active ingredients. This system of medicine is known as homeopathy.

b. Antazoline and Xylometazoline eye drops

Antazoline and Xylometazoline over the counter pinkeye treatment medication is good in fighting allergy symptoms such as hay fever and works as an anti-inflammatory

Other common OTC pinkeye relief drops (tears) brands include Eyebright Drops by Wisdom of the Ages, AquaSite, Celluvisc, Bion Tears, Gen Teal, Duratears, HypoTears, OcuCoat, Liquifilm Tears, Tears Naturale, Refresh, Systane, and TheraTears


Whereas these medications do not act on allergens, they could help reduce eye inflammation and other symptoms you might be experiencing.  For people who have conjunctivitis, Phenylephrine is often recommended. It helps in shrinking swollen blood vessels and thus reducing some symptoms.

Other than Phenylephrine, there is are a group of longer acting decongestants known as imidazoles (naphazoline, tetrahydrozoline, and oxymetazoline) which are contained in OTC drops for eyes such as Prefrin, Opcon A, and Naphcon. Each of these decongestants might have their own side effects.

Eye Ointments

These over the counter pinkeye medications work as lubricants and they some common brands include Refresh PM, Moisture Eyes PM, and Lacri-Lube that remain longer in your eyes as opposed to water-based eye drops.


Antihistamine is a good pinkeye relief drops. These medications will inhibit the production of histamine that might be responsible for your case. Whereas you can buy antihistamines over the counter, stronger types might require a prescription.

Note: There should not be counter antibiotic eye drops for pinkeye unless you have seen a doctor or a pharmacist to confirm if you really have bacterial conjunctivitis.

For kids, toddlers, and children

Conjunctivitis often affects kids since it can spread from one child to another as they are playing in school. Just like in adults, you can use antibiotic eye drops as well as over the counter medication. However, if the kid is less than two years, ensure you seek a doctor’s approval before buying any over the counter conjunctivitis medicine.

Where to buy them

Unless you are buying over the counter medications, you need a prescription to be able to buy most of the medications we have mentioned above. You will get these medications from your leading pharmacies as well as drugstore including CVS, Walmart, Walgreens, etc.

I hope you now know what eye drops are used for pinkeye and you understand what prescribed, and OTC drops are. Thank you.

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