Most people with acute conjunctivitis, often called pinkeye, are incorrectly prescribed antibiotics, which are rarely necessary to treat this common eye problem.
In a recent study in the journal Ophthalmology, researchers evaluated nationwide data on 340,000 people diagnosed with acute conjunctivitis and found that 58 percent were prescribed antibiotic eye drops. Primary care practitioners were two to three times more likely to prescribe antibiotics than were ophthalmologists or optometrists.
Most cases of conjunctivitis are viral or allergy-related and won’t respond to antibiotics. Even for bacterial conjunctivitis, antibiotics are usually unnecessary since most cases are mild and clear up on their own.
The study also found that one-fifth of these prescriptions were for antibiotic-corticosteroid combinations, which are contraindicated for acute conjunctivitis because they may worsen it.
Also see Pinkeye Problems.