What Are Corticosteroid Eye Drops?

S. Berger

A wide variety of medicated eye drops exist to treat different medical conditions. Corticosteroid eye drops are one example of this medication, and they are generally used to treat allergies that affect the eyes. The class of drugs known as corticosteroids work by decreasing immune responses that lead to allergic symptoms. These symptoms often include inflammation and irritation. Symptoms due to infection should be treated with other medications, however, as corticosteroids will not kill germs.

Anatomy of the human eye.
Anatomy of the human eye.

The same procedure is used to apply any type of corticosteroid eye drops. Clean hands should always be used to handle these eye drops, so as to avoid contaminating them and risking infection. The bottle should be shaken to ensure even distribution of the medication. The head should be tilted back, and the lower eyelid stretched to form a pouch. A single drop of the medication can be placed in the pouch, and the eyes should then be closed for a minute to allow the drop to absorb, taking care to wipe away excess medication with a tissue rather than bare hands.

Corticosteroid eye drops are used to treat allergies that affect the eyes.
Corticosteroid eye drops are used to treat allergies that affect the eyes.

As with any medication, corticosteroid eye drops can cause adverse side effects. Red or dry eyes, blurred vision, soreness of the throat, and slight swelling of the eyelids are all common side effects, and do not require medical attention unless these symptoms persist for more than a few days. Severe side effects that necessitate medical assistance include allergic reactions, particularly if they result in trouble breathing or tightness in the chest, as well as pain or itching of the eyes that becomes progressively worse. These drops are sometimes used after eye surgery, and if they seem to be preventing the eyes from healing properly, a doctor should be consulted as soon as possible.

Corticosteroid eye drops may lead to adverse reactions when they are used in the presence of some medical conditions. For this reason, a doctor should always be consulted before using these eye drops, even if they are purchased over the counter. Contact lenses may become damaged from corticosteroid eye drops, and these drops should never be used by individuals that wear them. Previous or current eye conditions, such as herpes infection, glaucoma, diabetes, or previous eye surgery may also make these drops potentially dangerous to use. Generally, other prescription drugs will not interact with these eye drops, but to be safe, it is important to inform an eye doctor of all medications taken before using this drug.

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