Do You Need a Prescription for Pink Eye?

Submitted by Josh Talkington on March 18, 2021

Conjunctivitis is an inflammation or swelling of the conjunctiva, which is the thin transparent layer of tissue that lines the inner surface of the eyelid and covers the white part of the eye. Often called pink eye, conjunctivitis is a common eye condition, especially in children.

People with conjunctivitis may experience the following symptoms:

  • A gritty feeling in one or both eyes
  • Itching or burning sensation in one or both eyes
  • Excessive tearing
  • Discharge from one or both eyes
  • Swollen eyelids
  • Pink discoloration to the whites of one or both eyes
  • Increased sensitivity to light

     The most common causes of pink eye are:

  • Viruses
  • Bacteria
  • Allergens

If you think you may have pink eye, you should contact your eye doctor right away. Some forms of pink eye are highly contagious and can easily spread in schools and at home. You don’t always need a prescription for pink eye; some forms of pink eye require a prescription while others do not.

Viral Pink Eye: Pink eye caused by a virus usually runs its course in 1-3e weeks. Because it is not caused by bacteria, viral conjunctivitis does not respond to antibiotics. It can also be highly contagious. 

Bacterial Pink Eye: For pink eye caused by bacteria, the treatment will usually be antibiotic eye drops or ointment. This generally clears the symptoms within a few days. Be sure to complete the full course of antibiotic treatment. For more stubborn infections, an oral antibiotic may be prescribed. Oral antibiotics are prescribed for highly unusual cases of pink eye caused by gonorrhea or chlamydia. Sexual partners should also be treated. Also, if pink eye doesn’t go away after a month, you may be tested for chlamydia.

Allergic Pink Eye: Allergic pink eye should respond to topical vasoconstrictors (medicines that narrow the blood vessels), antihistamines, or steroid eye drops. 

To help relieve the discomfort of pink eye, apply a cool compress for 5 to 10 minutes, 3 to 4 times a day. Preservative-free artificial tears can be applied a few times a day. Never use steroid eye drops or medications from a friend without a doctor’s prescription. And be extremely careful not to share towels or washcloths with others so as not to spread an extremely contagious viral or bacterial pink eye to others. You should also be careful about using the same cloths or drops between your two eyes so as not to transfer the infection to your other eye. Discard cosmetic eye products which may have been contaminated. Do not wear contact lenses.

If you suspect you may have pink eye, contact Clavenna Vision Institute at 248-646-3733 or website. Dr. Clavenna is fully equipped to diagnose the cause of your eye issue and prescribe the proper treatment. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.