Corticosteroids are extremely valuable medications because of their potent ability to treat inflammatory, immune-mediated or allergic conditions. However, their therapeutic potential in ophthalmology is often limited by their numerous side effects. Also, the rapid symptom relief they produce can mask their adverse effects.
- The correct use of corticosteroids for ophthalmic conditions can be sight saving; their incorrect use is potentially blinding.
- Corticosteroids should never be given for an undiagnosed red eye, when visual acuity is impaired or if there is a history of ocular herpes infection.
- Corticosteroids should be prescribed only when indicated, not casually for the relief of ocular discomfort.
- Topical corticosteroid treatment should not be repeated or renewed without regular review by an ophthalmologist.
- Patients on prolonged systemic corticosteroids should have six-monthly eye examinations by an ophthalmologist.
- Paediatric patients on corticosteroids require careful ophthalmological monitoring.