Corticosteroid eye drops/ointments (steroids)

Examples: Atropine, Mydrilate® (Cyclopentolate), Homatropine, Mydriacyl® (Tropicamide), Phenylephrine How to do they work? Corticosteroids or ‘steroids’ treat inflammation (redness, soreness, swelling of the eye). Inflammation may be caused by injury, infection, allergy or occur after surgery. Corticosteroid eye drops and ointments sometimes also contain an antibiotic to prevent or treat an infection.

What should I tell the pharmacist or doctor?
Tell the pharmacist and doctor if your child is allergic to any antibiotic or other medication.

How to give eye drops/ointment
Before giving either drops or ointment, it is important to wash and dry your hands.

Eye drops: You only need to place one drop in each eye. Some eye drops, including Pred Forte® and Maxidex®, require the bottle to be shaken before use. If you need to give more than one type of eye drop, leave at least five minutes between applying each type of medicine.

Eye ointment: Pull down the lower lid and squeeze about 1/2 a centimetre (1/4 of an inch) of ointment into each eye. You need to take care not to touch the eye with the end of the tube.

Contact lenses: Your child should not wear contact lenses when using these drops/ointments as this can increase the chance of infection.

How often should I give steroids?
Steroids need to be taken at regular times throughout the day. The pharmacist or doctor will tell you how frequently. The doctor might also prescribe a steroid eye ointment to keep the inflammation down overnight. 

What are the main side effects?
Mild side effects: Eye drops and ointment can cause mild stinging, blurred sight or a funny taste in the mouth soon after putting them in. 

Other side effects: Serious side effects such as glaucoma (high pressure) or cataracts (cloudy lens of the eye) can occasionally occur with the use of long-term or very high dose steroids. The eye doctors will check the eyes for this in the clinic and it is very important that your child keeps their clinic appointments if taking steroids.

If your child’s vision becomes cloudy or the eye becomes worse seek medical attention immediately.

How do you store steroids?
Most eye drops/ointments can be stored at room temperature and should be thrown away four weeks after you open them. Some need to be stored in a fridge and some need to be thrown away after one week. Check with your pharmacist when you need to discard the medication.

Last updated: 20th November 2017