Pinkeye (Conjunctivitis) Medications

Reviewed on 8/4/2022

What are the different types of pinkeye medicines?

Pinkeye (conjunctivitis) can be caused by bacteria, allergies, or viruses.

Bacterial conjunctivitis is most often treated with ophthalmic antibiotic eye drops or ointments such as

For allergic conjunctivitis, antihistamines such as

Viral conjunctivitis does not usually require specific antiviral treatments, however over-the-counter topical antihistamines and decongestants (Naphcon-A, Ocuhist) may help relieve symptoms.


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What are common side effects of pinkeye medications?

Side effects of ophthalmic antibiotic ointments or drops used to treat pinkeye include

  • temporary stinging or burning of the eyes when first applied and
  • temporary blurred or unstable vision after applying eye ointment.

More serious side effects include

  • rash,
  • itching or burning eyes,
  • redness/pain or swelling in or around the eyes, and
  • vision problems.

Side effects of antihistamines include

  • dry mouth,
  • drowsiness,
  • dizziness,
  • nausea and vomiting,
  • restlessness or moodiness (in some children),
  • trouble urinating,
  • blurred vision, or confusion.

Ophthalmic mast cell stabilizers may cause

  • burning,
  • stinging, or
  • blurred vision when applied.

Where can people find more information about side effects of prescription pinkeye drugs?

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Always consult your doctor if you are having unexplained symptoms or questions related to your medications. For more information about the side effects of pinkeye medications, search for the drug and click on the drug's "Side Effects Center" on the top left side of the page.

Reviewed by:
William Baer, MD
Board Certified Ophthalmology

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