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Ocular Steroids: What are the Benefits and Risks?

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Steroids are widely considered as a postoperative therapy, particularly after a cataract or eye surgery, to improve an impaired or blurry vision. Ocular steroids are in use for conditions like eye-lid inflammation, dry eye, anterior uveitis, conjunctivitis, etc. All these can lead to glaucoma, acute cataract, and blindness. 

Ocular steroids help improve your eyesight and overcome other ocular issues. 

How Ocular Steroids Work 

Ocular steroids have anti-inflammatory properties for treating eye inflammation. The steroids work in the inflammatory chute to reduce inflammation.  

These are for topical use for various eye conditions. Steroids enter the damaged cell via your cell membrane and bind to the GR (glucocorticoid receptor) of the cell. This allows the drug to enter the cell nucleus, whereas the GR will further push it to DNA for suppressing the cells’ inflammatory response. 

Ocular steroids have benefits and risks. We should not overlook both features when using ocular conditions. 

Ocular Steroids: The Benefits 

Ocular steroids are a go-to treatment for inflammation due to eye-diseases and surgical trauma despite having side effects. Steroid drops are used to reduce internal & external inflammation and scarring.  

Topical Steroids 

Topical ocular steroids are safe for cornea and intraocular inflammation for their efficacy, safety, and little side effects.  

Some other topical steroids are good for treating complex cataracts like intraoperative floppy iris syndrome. It’s also used for patients having conditions like iris rings, or vitreous loss. 

Benefits of Ocular Steroids 

Ocular steroids come in drops, injections, creams, and ointments. All have their different benefits. 

  • Vision-saving agents 
  • Fast-acting anti-inflammatory agents 
  • Can improve the eyesight of patients suffering from clotting in blood veins, a major cause for blindness 
  • Good for postoperative intra-ocular surgeries  
  • Help heal anterior uveitis overnight 
  • Can help patients with macular degeneration because of diabetes.  
  • Reduce vascular permeability. This further reduces swelling around the eye. 
  • They heal the fibrosis and wounds 
  • Ocular steroids obstruct fibroblasts and the cytokines which inspire fibroblasts and other factors promoting blood vessel growth. This ultimately leads to a better wound healing response. 

Nonetheless, you should not use ocular steroids for more than 8 to 10 days. It’s suggested to seek your doctor’s advice to avoid any aggravated problems. 

Risks of using Ocular Steroids Drops 

There could be multiple side effects of using ocular steroids. 

  • You can have an itchy, burning, or stinging feeling in your eye for a couple of minutes after applying ocular steroids 
  • Temporary blurred vision 
  • Can cause high sensitivity to sharp lights indoors and outdoors 
  • Visual disturbance like hazy vision 
  • Feeling irritation in your eyes 
  • Allergic reactions 
  • May cause an elevated pressure for intraocular activity  


You should always consult or seek an expert’s opinion before using any ocular steroids. Keeping your eyes healthy is always important to enjoy your life in an optimum manner. 

Written by Total Focus

At Total Focus Optometry, we’ve spent the last 70 years building meaningful relationships with our patients and their families. From routine eye exams to contact lens fittings we offer our patients a variety of services to meet their eye care needs.

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