Depending on the type of conjunctivitis, the treatment varies as follows:
1. Infectious Conjunctivitis:
Bacterial conjunctivitis can be treated with antibiotic eye drops or ointments prescribed by your eye doctor.
Unlike bacterial infections, viral conjunctivitis cannot be treated with antibiotics. Instead, this form of conjunctivitis is self-limited, which means that the infection will go away on its own anywhere between seven days to several weeks duration. Nevertheless, until the immune system has a chance to kick in and help stop the spread of the virus, some doctors of optometry will use off-label treatment to clear away as much virus as possible in the eye. Sometimes (steroid) eye drops are used to prevent scarring of the cornea.
Artificial tears can be used frequently as well as applying a wet, cold washcloth to the infected eye to relieve discomfort from the symptoms.
NOTE: Since viral conjunctivitis is highly contagious, do not share used washcloths! To avoid spreading this type of pink eye, frequently wash hands, avoid touching eyes, sharing towels, and so on. Patients should stay away from school/work as it is contagious during the watery discharge phase.
2. Allergic Conjunctivitis:
To help provide relief, shorten the length, and even prevent the onset of allergic conjunctivitis, allergy medication (antihistamine) will be prescribed or recommended. Those who suffer from seasonal allergies should speak with their doctor about allergy medication early to get ahead of symptoms.
3. Chemical Conjunctivitis
Depending on the degree of exposure, the treatment of chemical conjunctivitis varies. For minor irritation (e.g., chlorine from a pool), rinse the eyes and consider purchasing goggles. More acute chemical exposure may be a medical emergency and call for immediate medical attention.