Eye Inflammation and Steroids

by Dec 5, 2022

Steroids, or corticosteroids, are anti-inflammatory medications that mimic the actions of the natural corticosteroids produced by the body. These medications can be used for a wide variety of purposes due to their strong anti-inflammatory action. For eye conditions, both eye drops and oral medications can be used depending on the type and location of the inflammation. While steroids can be used safely in small doses, if higher doses or longer durations are used there can be adverse effects.

Symptoms of Inflammation in the Eyes

Inflammation can present with several classic symptoms including redness on or around the eyes, heat from the skin around the eyes, swelling of the eyelid or other internal parts of the eyes, and pain from the affected structures are all common.

These symptoms may present altogether or as only one or two of the classic symptoms.

The more internal the inflammation, the less likely the symptoms will be present on the external examination and without an eye examination.

On the other hand, any inflammation of the eyelid skin will usually present with obvious and classic symptoms of inflammation in other places in the body.

What Conditions Can Result in Eye Inflammation?

Inflammation can occur in nearly any structure within the eyes. Inflammation of the eyelid can come from blepharitis, chalazion (stye), or inflammation of the oil glands called Meibomian gland dysfunction.

The white of the eye can become inflamed in scleritis, episcleritis, conjunctivitis, and infections.

The internal structures in the eye can have inflammation as a result of anterior uveitis, vitritis, chorioretinal inflammation, after cataract surgery, or from trauma to the eye.

All of these conditions lead to inflammation somewhere within the eyes and thus are treated using steroids.

How Topical Steroid Eye Drops Can Help

Steroid eye drops are the most common type of steroid medication used for eye inflammation problems.

Any type of inflammation in the front of the eye is able to be treated with topical steroid eye drops.

This includes many eyelid conditions, episcleritis and scleritis, most forms of conjunctivitis, anterior uveitis, and even some cases of inflammation after cataract surgery.

These eye drops are grouped into two categories based on the strength of the steroid and the likelihood of having side effects.

Strong steroid eye drops are more effective and more likely to have a side effect than soft steroid eye drops.

Oral Steroid Medications

Oral steroids are less often used in eye problems but can be very useful for cases of severe eye inflammation.

Things such as vitritis, panuveitis, chorioretinal inflammation, and other types of inflammation that are not responsive to treatment with eye drops may require oral steroid medications.

Oral steroids are more likely to cause systemic side effects than topical eye drops of any form.

Side Effects of Steroids

Steroids carry many warnings of potential side effects based on high-dosage oral medications, however, topical drops and lower-dosage medications are much lower risks for most side effects.

There is a noted risk of an increase in eye pressure when using a steroid and this requires monitoring closely even when using only eye drops.

Our optometrist at Eye Contact in Acworth, GA excels in the prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye diseases such as eye inflammation. Call our optometrist at (770) 529-1925 or schedule an eye exam appointment online if you would like to learn more about eye inflammation. Our eye doctor, Dr. Wes Mobley provides the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Acworth, Georgia and its surrounding areas.


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