Pinkeye Eye Drops: Best Antibiotic, Prescribed & OTC

January 2, 2018

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

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

They are essential for people whose condition is caused by allergic reactions.

Some are good for treating viral conjunctivitis, while others are used for bacterial infection, for 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 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.

Therefore, prescription drops for conjunctivitis can only be bought through the recommendation of a qualified medical practitioner. You cannot buy them without a prescription.

Best Antibiotic-Eye drops for pinkeye

If you are suffering from conjunctivitis caused by bacteria, you might need antibiotic eye solution or drops. Antibiotics will work by killing the bacteria and/or inhibit its growth.

Some of the common antibiotics 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 aminoglycoside antibiotics. It works by killing the bacteria in your eyes. 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 bacteria 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 of quinolone. The vigamox eye solution has proven for a broad spectrum of bacteria that might cause this condition.


Sulfacetamide Sodium Ophthalmic is a sulfa bacterial pinkeye infection that belongs to a family of 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. It 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 brand names including Pred Forte, Pred Mild. It has a generic version such as prednisolone acetate. Prednisolone helps various symptoms of an eye infection such as redness, swelling, and itching that can be caused by 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 reactions.

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 ointment.  Steroids help in reducing inflammation while antibiotics 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 for the ointment, you apply 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.

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 brands are eye drops medication that does not need a doctor’s or pharmacist’s prescription to buy them. They are good at relieving the general symptoms caused by conjunctivitides. 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, and decongestants.  It is worthwhile to note that if you opt for over the counter medication for pink eye, you will be relieving symptoms and not treating the condition especially for the bacterial infection.

Artificial Tears

These over the counter conjunctivitis 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 brands 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)

It is an over the counter homeopathic eye drop for conjunctivitis which is good in relieving the various symptoms of eye infections. Including those of conjunctivitis, dry, gritty, watering, burning, or sting 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.

b. Antazoline and Xylometazoline

Antazoline and Xylometazoline are another over the counter conjunctivitis treatment medication. It is good at fighting allergy symptoms such as hay fever and works as an anti-inflammatory.

Other common OTC brands including tears are Eyebright Drops by Wisdom of the Ages, AquaSite, Celluvisc, Bion Tears, Gen Teal, Duratears. Also, 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 OTC ointments or medications work as lubricants and some common brands include Refresh PM, Moisture Eyes PM, and Lacri-Lube that remain longer in your eyes as opposed to water-based drops.


Antihistamines are good to use in case of allergies. 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: Do not be counter antibiotic eye drops for pinkeye unless you have seen a doctor or a pharmacist 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.