What Are the Main Ingredients in Eye Drops for Conjunctivitis?


Allergic, bacterial, chemical and viral conjunctivitis require different types of eye drops as treatment, according to the American Optometric Association. Depending on the diagnosis, doctors prescribe artificial tear eye drops, saline drops, topical steroid eye drops or antibiotic eye drops.

To treat chemical conjunctivitis, doctors use saline drops to flush the eyes, notes the American Optometric Association. The main ingredient in one type of saline eye drops is purified water, and the drops also contain sodium chloride and benzalkonium chloride, according to Drugs.com. Sometimes, doctors also prescribe topical steroid eye drops. One type of antibiotic eye drops contains purified water, boric acid, borax and phenylmercuric nitrate, as well as the antibiotic chloramphenicol, according to Drugs.com.

Doctors recommend treating allergic conjunctivitis with artificial tears and cold compresses, explains the American Optometric Association. The main ingredient in artificial tears is carboxymethylcellulose or hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, according to WebMD.

There are no eye drops that can treat viral conjunctivitis, states the American Optometric Association. Patients with viral conjunctivitis can use artificial tears to reduce the symptoms, and doctors sometimes prescribe topical steroid eye drops to reduce inflammation. Steroid eye drops could contain prednisolone, medrysone, hydrocortisone, fluorometholone, dexamethasone or betamethasone, notes Mayo Clinic.

Doctors can treat bacterial conjunctivitis with antibiotic eye drops, according to the American Optometric Association. A patient may receive an antibiotic ointment instead and should finish the entire course of treatment even if symptoms improve.