Prednisolone is a medication used primarily in the treatment of eye inflammation. It is often prescribed to relieve eye symptoms, such as redness, watering, burning, itching, or swelling, caused by allergies, viral or bacterial infections, exposure to irritants like heat or chemicals, injury, or surgery. The medication may be available as an ointment, but prednisolone eye drops tend to be the more common form.
Eye inflammation and its accompanying symptoms are often the result of the body attempting to protect itself from harm. The immune system is the body’s mechanism that helps fight off bacteria, diseases, and foreign substances. When the eyes are irritated or injured, the body’s immune system responds by releasing substances to cause inflammation in an attempt to eradicate the factor that caused the discomfort or trauma and prevent it from causing additional harm to the eyes. Prednisolone eye drops work by keeping the immune system from releasing the substances that cause inflammation.
The medication is usually prescribed to be used approximately two to four times each day. The length of the course of treatment will generally depend on the cause of the eye inflammation, but it tends to be needed for about 10 days to effectively treat symptoms and prevent them from returning. Prednisolone eye drops are administered directly into the eyes and a person is typically recommended to keep his or her eyes closed for at least two minutes to prevent the medication from dripping from the eyes.
Although they do not tend to be serious, certain serious side effects may occur with the use of prednisolone eye drops. These may include extremely painful headache, sudden development of swelling or pus from the eyes, or the abrupt onset of eye blurriness, pain, or other changes in vision. If these side effects occur, immediate medical attention is generally recommended. Other less serious side effects, such as a light tingling or stinging in the eyes, slight blurred vision, or light sensitivity, may also occur with the medication; however, these effects will usually subside on their own with no need for medical treatment.
Prednisolone eye drops can cause complications, so some people may not be able to safely use the medication. People who wear contact lenses will typically be advised to not wear their lenses for at least 15 minutes after administering the medication because it contains a preservative that can cause discoloration to the contact lenses. Underlying conditions, such as glaucoma, herpes, or cataracts, may also put a person at a higher risk of developing serious side effects so he or she may be advised to not use the medication. The effect of the medication on children is not known, so women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may also be recommended to not use the medication.