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Medical Management For Conjunctivitis

Also known as pink eye, conjunctivitis typically causes eye irritation, redness, light sensitivity, excessive tearing, and drainage. While many cases of conjunctivitis resolve without treatment, it is essential that you visit your eye doctor as soon as possible so they can check your eye. Here are some medical treatment options your doctor may recommend for your conjunctivitis.


Conjunctivitis can be caused by a virus, a bacterial infection, or even allergies. If your optometrist determines that the cause of your pink eye is bacterial in nature, they may prescribe antibiotics.

The antibiotics may be in drop form or they may be prescribed as an ointment. In some cases, however, the doctor may choose to prescribe an oral antibiotic. If your conjunctivitis is caused by a virus or allergies, antibiotics will not be prescribed, as they are ineffective in treating non-bacterial types of pink eye.

It is important that you finish your prescribed course of antibiotics, because if you do not, the eye infection may not fully resolve. If your doctor prescribes antibiotic drops or an ointment, don't allow the tip of the bottle or tube to touch your eye, because this may contaminate the applicator with bacteria.

Steroid Drops

Your doctor may also prescribe steroid drops to treat your conjunctivitis. Steroid drops are typically reserved for severe cases of conjunctivitis, where symptoms are extreme. While steroids often bring rapid relief, they can sometimes slow down the healing process.

Topical steroid drops are typically well-tolerated by most individuals and generally do not cause the same side effects that oral steroid drugs can cause. While steroid eye drops are effective in treating conjunctivitis, your eye doctor may avoid prescribing them if you have a preexisting eye disorder, such as glaucoma. Steroids can increase your intraocular pressure, which can aggravate the symptoms of glaucoma. In rare cases, steroid eye drops can lead to blurred vision, and in some cases, raise your risk for cataracts. This is unusual, however, in those using steroid drops for only short periods of time. 

If you develop symptoms of pink eye, make an appointment with your optometrist as soon as possible. In the meantime, wash your hands frequently and avoid touching or scratching your eyes, because this can further exacerbate your symptoms and it could also spread the infection to your other eye. While you are waiting to see your doctor, apply warm compresses to your eye to help ease pain, and to help promote healing.

For more information about seeing an eye doctor for pink eye, contact a local optometrist office.