Prescription medications are medicines that are obtained only with a doctor's prescription. All types of medication have the potential of causing harmful effects. Therefore, doctors usually consider the risks and benefits of a drug before making prescriptions.
Additionally, they consider a patient's weight, ongoing medication, other medical conditions, and the medicine's side effects.
Prescription medications for dry eyes can be categorized into:
Prescription eye drops
The eye drops mostly include corticosteroids, which help reduce inflammation on the eye's surface or along the eyelid edge. Eye inflammation prevents oil glands from secreting oil into tears. Without oil, tears evaporate quickly.
These are creams applied to the eye to give it a soothing relief.
Refers to soluble, sterile, drug-impregnated devices that are placed into the conjunctival sac. The inserts dissolve and produce a substance that lubricates the eye.
These are drugs that enhance tear production. They are available as eye drops, pills, or gel.
Autologous blood serum drops
Made from a patient's blood, the drops are an option for severe dry eyes unresponsive to other treatment forms.
Administration & Dosage
The proper administration for any ophthalmic product involves:
- Thorough washing of the eye area and the hands
- Tilting the head backward
- Pulling the eyelid away from the eye
For eye drops, the next step involves placing one drop into the eye while facing up, then gently applying pressure to the tear duct. In the case of ointments, patients should apply 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the cream to the lower eyelid, then gently close the eyes for two minutes.
If the doctor prescribes more than one medication, a five-minute allowance between the products is necessary. Where a doctor prescribes both eye drops and ointments, the patient should place the eye drops ten minutes before applying the cream.
While the ointment dosage is usually once or twice a day, a patient can use eye drops as often as needed, but it should not exceed 3-4 days. The administration of eye inserts entails placing one lacrisert insert between the eyeball and lower eyelid once a day.
Potential Side Effects & Interactions
Eye drops are known to widen the pupils and cause eye redness, stinging, and blurry vision. Patients should seek medical attention if the side effects worsen, or they experience tremors, irregular or fast heartbeats, nervousness, sweating, headaches, and body weakness. It is also recommended that patients should immediately stop the medication and report to their doctors if there is pain, eye swelling, or other vision problems. Allergic reactions are rare, but in case of rashes, itching, breathing problems, and severe dizziness, patients should see their doctors.
The prolonged use of corticosteroids can result in cataracts and glaucoma, while cholinergic drugs cause sweating. Eye inserts bring about eye redness or discomfort, light sensitivity, temporary blurred vision, or sticky eyelashes. The side effects may become severe, causing pain, persistent irritation or redness, vision changes, or eye swelling. If a patient experiences such effects, s/he should remove the insert and notify the doctor immediately.
Patients using autologous blood serum may experience slight epitheliopathy, increased discomfort, eyelid eczema, or bacterial conjunctivitis. When prescribing medicines, doctors are usually aware of drug interactions, and they may keep track of them. Therefore, patients should not change, start, or stop medication without a doctor's approval.
Symptoms of Overdose
Patients need to adhere to doctors' instructions concerning the dosage and administration of all prescribed medications to avoid overdose. When a patient exhibits overdose symptoms or accidentally ingests eye drops or eye inserts, s/he should seek immediate medical assistance.
The symptoms that manifest when a patient overuses eye drops include decreased body temperature, eye redness, severe sweating, drowsiness, and slow breathing. Eye inserts, when overused, may cause a patient to pass out or have difficulties with breathing. Excessive consumption of cholinergic drugs may result in insomnia, drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, and headaches. In severe instances, a patient may have slurred speech, respiratory depression, or convulsions.
All medication should be stored away from children and pets. Eye inserts should be kept in rooms below 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius). Autologous blood serum can last up to a month if stored at 4°C and up to three months if kept at 20°C.
For the disposal of eye inserts, flushing and draining is not recommended unless the doctor instructs so.