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Eye Drops, Dangers And Side Effects

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Eye Drops, Dangers And Side Effects
October 27
15:44 2016

Article Highlights

  • Over-the-counter eye drops are either tear supplements (ocular lubricants), anti-allergy or antibiotic drops
  • Steroid drops are required for a number of different inflammatory diseases in the eye
  • They can also cause viral infections in the eye and perforate the cornea

Like a lot of prescription and over-the-counter medicine, it’s natural to call their potential dangers and side effects into question. Eye drops in particular have made headlines over the past few years, warning people of their potentially hazardous nature. These cases have been due to misuse (i.e. ingestion or overuse), causing a buzz in the optical world with respect to what exactly is in eye drops and what cautions to take before using them.

According to Dr. Alan Berger, an ophthalmologist at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, eye drops are, for the most part, very safe. He explained that there are many different kinds of eye drops, so it’s best to break the varieties down in order to discuss them and pinpoint any potential risks.

“Over-the-counter eye drops are either tear supplements (ocular lubricants), anti-allergy or antibiotic drops,” Dr. Berger said. “With respect to tear supplements and anti-allergy drops, there are no real inherent dangers or side effects unless people are careless and, for example, leave the cap open. This can allow for bacteria to develop and cause infections if the patient continues normal usage. The only other potential issue could be if you have an infection that needs to be tended to by a doctor and you are self-medicating by using over-the-counter drops and allowing the infection to worsen by neglecting the real problem.”

According to Dr. Berger, prescription antibiotic drops, such as over-the-counter antibiotic drops, are meant for specific medical reasons and precise periods of time. If they’re used improperly or overused, they can cause antibiotic resistance, which increases your chances of getting much more serious infection.

Dr. Berger noted that there are numerous prescription drug drops that can be classified under three broad categories: glaucoma drops, steroid drops (anti-inflammatory drops) and prescription antibiotic drops.

“Like blood pressure pills, people are put on glaucoma drops for a serious medical reason,” Dr. Berger clarified. “In the case of glaucoma drops, it’s to prevent people from going blind. The drops don’t make them feel any different or affect them in any kind of fundamentally negative way, but problems can arise if people stop taking them. Basically, if your doctor prescribes these drops to you, you must not discontinue usage unless further advised, otherwise you run the risk of going blind.”

Dr. Berger also elaborated that steroid drops are required for a number of different inflammatory diseases in the eye, making it important to follow your doctor’s orders when prescribed and being sure not to abuse them or use them without a doctor’s supervision, because they can actually make the eye pressure drop and cause blindness.

“They can also cause viral infections in the eye and perforate the cornea, which is not a good thing,” Dr. Berger added. “Basically, the drops are very useful and very important for a variety of people’s needs, but they just need to be used under proper supervision.”

According to Dr. Berger, though many people look at drops as if they are not really medicine, it’s important to follow the prescription exactly as your doctor told you. Do not self-diagnose or self-medicate using old prescription drops or over-the-counter drops that you assume will work, because it can very well make your infection much worse in the long run.

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