Treating Pink Eye

Aug 25, 2021

By Barret Procyshyn, Pharmacist at Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

A few weeks ago the discussion focused on the types of conjunctivitis. If you did not "see" it" or missed it, you can catch up by viewing our articles on Once you determine what is causing the pink eye, you can start treating it appropriately. Please note even medical professionals can have difficulty diagnosing and treating eye conditions so always seek help from your optometrist or physician if your issue is prolonged or worrisome or impacting your vision.

Viral conjunctivitis usually clears on its own and is more difficult to treat successfully. Antibiotics will not work in this situation. Interestingly, a virus is to blame 60 to 80 percent of the time, so keep that in mind. Prescription antivirals do exist but are not commonly used for a viral infection.

Bacterial infections can be successfully treated with antibiotics. The Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy sells Polysporin eye drops over the counter without a prescription. Use one to two Polysporin eye drops into the affected eye four times per day. Prescription treatments are also available, which are often quite effective when the infection is caused by bacteria. Typically, antibiotic eye drops are used for five to seven days. Antibiotic eye drops are also often used before and after eye surgery to prevent infection. Ear drops cannot be used in the eye because the drops may not have a balanced pH or may contain a preservative not suitable for the eye.

Remember to never share eye drops. Clean the tip of the eyedropper with a clean tissue after use. If administering other eye drops always ensure you separate them by at least five minutes. If using an ophthalmic ointment, the process can get a little messy. Pull down the lower lid with a clean hand and apply in a 1cm strip into the lid using your other hand. For young children it is suggested to do this at nap times and bedtime as the ointment must melt into the eye for proper treatment.

Some eye drops use to treat allergy symptoms have changed to over-the-counter products. Cromolyn eye drops are an example of this. One to two drops can be used in both eyes four times a day. Often using a once daily non drowsy allergy pill will be effective as well. Just keep in mind allergy medications usually take time to become effective and need continued usage if the allergen continues to be present.

If dry eyes are the cause, your Dauphin Clinic Pharmacist can recommend a product from a wide variety of products, without a prescription, to help your symptoms. Lubricating eye drops for dry eye can be used as needed multiple times throughout the day. The Systane line of lubricant eye drops is one of the most common, while less expensive store brand options are available. If your eyes are sensitive preservative free single use preparations are available. If stronger eye lubrication is needed an ointment can be used at bedtime.

For any drop if your symptoms worsen or do not get better within 72 hours, you should consult your optometrist or your physician. When using eye drops contact lenses should usually be avoided. Most times eye drops are stored at room temperature but can sometimes be kept in the fridge so you can feel the cool drop hit the eye.

Again, preventing conjunctivitis is always better than treating it. Avoid touching your eyes with your hands. Practice frequent hand washing while using clean towels and washcloths. Do not share those towels or washcloths. Change your pillowcases often. If you wear contact lenses, and develop an infection start with a new set of lenses once the infection goes away. If you develop an eye infection you should discard your eye cosmetics to prevent reinfection and never share your cosmetics or eye care items.

The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care professional.


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