Antibiotic eye drops require a prescription from a doctor, so these are not over-the-counter medications. OTC products do not require a prescription and OTC medications for the eyes can include artificial tears, lubricating ointments, eye washes, eye scrubs, hyperosmotics and eye drops that contain either a decongestant or antihistamine, as noted by MedicineNet.
Antibiotic eye drops are prescribed for bacterial infections that can affect the eyes, such as bacterial conjunctivitis. A typical antibiotic used to treat this bacterial infection is ciprofloxacin ophthalmic, which is classified as a fluoroquinolone, as noted by the United States National Institutes of Health's MedlinePlus.
There are also other classes of antibiotics used for bacterial conjunctivitis and other eye infections caused by different types bacteria. Some of these other antibiotic types include azithromycin ophthalmic and tobramycin. Ciprofloxacin can be for a conjunctivitis infection caused by a bacterium, such as Staphylococcus aureus. However, bacterial conjunctivitis caused by the CDC coryneform group G bacteria may be treated with azithromycin, as stated by Medscape.