OTC, Home Remedies Are Found Most Effective When Treating Conjunctivitis

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OTC Guide2024 OTC Guide

Caution Patients Against the Use of Redness-Reducing Eye Drops.

Conjunctivitis, commonly known as pink eye, is a highly contagious infection that can easily be spread to other individuals or the uninfected eye if not properly taken care of, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO). To reduce the spread of infection, individuals with conjunctivitis should change their sheets and pillowcases daily, wash their hands often, and avoid use of contact lenses until the infection resolves. Common causes of conjunctivitis include allergies, bacteria, viruses, injury to the eye, irritants (such as dirt, smoke, or pool chlorine), or reactions to eye drops or contact lenses. Symptoms can include inflammation, red or puffy eyelids, and discharge of the eye. Viral conjunctivitis can also be accompanied by a runny nose, sore throat, cough, or fever.1,2

Close up of an adult woman having conjunctivitis | Image Credit: lavizzara - stock.adobe.com

Image Credit: lavizzara - stock.adobe.com

There are 3 types of pink eye: allergic, viral, and bacterial. Although bacterial pink eye can be treated with antibiotics, viral pink eye cannot and should resolve within a week or 2 without treatment, according to the AAO. Importantly, patients should be counseled that antibiotic drops or ointments do not alleviate symptoms or make the infection less contagious, according to Mayo Clinic. Allergic pink eye is not contagious, and patients should try to identify and stop contact with whatever is causing it. The most common type of pink eye is viral.1,2

However, the symptoms of pink eye can sometimes cause discomfort, and patients often ask about OTC and home remedies to combat the symptoms. The AAO recommends using an OTC painkiller such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, as well as lubricating eye drops, known as artificial tears. Lubricating eye drops help the tear film work more effectively and protect the surface of the eyes. Another remedy is using a warm, damp washcloth on the infected eye, which can loosen dried mucus.1,3

Experts caution against use of redness-reducing eye drops such as tetryzoline (Visine; Johnson & Johnson). Red eye typically occurs when an individual is tired, has allergies, has dry eyes, is around smoke, and has ocular irritation from contact lenses. These drops work by reducing the swelling in the eye’s blood vessels. Although pink eye can make the eye(s) red, redness-reducing eye drops can make symptoms worse.1,4

If patients experience worsening eye pain, blurred vision, sensitivity to light, warm and red swelling, worsening symptoms after 3 days with no associated cold symptoms, or vision loss, they should contact their primary care provider.2

References
1. Gudgel DT. Quick home remedies for pink eye. American Academy ofOphthalmology. April 27, 2023. Accessed June 3, 2024. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/diseases/pink-eye-quick-home-remedies
2. A closer look at pink eye: self-care tips for conjunctivitis. Mayo Clinic Health System. November 9, 2023. Accessed June 3, 2024. https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/changing-the-approach-to-pink-eye
3. Boyd K. Lubricating eye drops for dry eyes. American Academy of Ophthalmology.February 9, 2022. Accessed June 3, 2024. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/treatments/lubricating-eye-drops
4. Boyd K. Redness-relieving eye drops. American Academy of Ophthalmology. April 7, 2023. Accessed June 3, 2024. https://www.aao.org/eye-health/treatments/redness-relieving-eye-drops
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