What to Know About Prednisolone Eye Drops

A steroid drug approved to treat eye redness, irritation, and inflammation

Prednisolone eye drops are a corticosteroid drug suspension applied to the eyes. Steroids change how your immune system responds to inflammation and irritation, reducing the swelling and redness that generally occur. It is used when eyes have been irritated by allergies or irritation that is not from an infection. 

Common brand names of prednisolone include AK-Pred, Econopred, Omnipred, Pred Mild, Inflamase Forte, and Pred Forte. Prednisolone is also used in combination with other ocular medications such as sulfacetamide or neomycin.

Young woman applying eye drops

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Uses 

Prednisolone is approved to treat mild to moderate non-infectious causes of eye irritation, including redness, swelling, and burning caused by chemicals, radiation, heat, allergies, or objects in the eye. Eye irritation due to severe acne and shingles may also warrant the use of prednisolone eye drops.

After surgery, such as a corneal graft transplant surgery, prednisolone is often used to prevent the body from rejecting the graft.

Before Taking

An eye specialist typically prescribes prednisolone for mild to moderate short-term eye irritation. The specialist will check to ensure the cause of your eye irritation is not due to an active bacterial, viral, or fungal infection before prescribing it.

Before taking prednisolone eye drops, be sure you know exactly how to apply them. Ask your doctor for a detailed explanation. 

Precautions and Contraindications

Notify your doctor of any other medications and supplements you take. If you have any allergies, or if you wear contacts, let your doctor know this as well.

If you are or might become pregnant while taking prednisolone eye drops, tell your doctor. Additionally, if you are breastfeeding, you should not take prednisolone. Tell your doctor if this is the case.

Be sure to let your doctor know of any conditions you might have, such as:

  • Glaucoma
  • Cataracts
  • Diabetes
  • Bacterial, viral, or fungal infections

If, after two days of use, no improvement has been made, your doctor may re-examine you to determine if there is another underlying condition such as an infection. After taking a course of prednisolone eye drops, your doctor will need to examine you before renewing the prescription, if necessary. Long-term use of corticosteroids can lead to complications such as fungal infections of the cornea.

Other Opthamalic Corticosteroids

There are several other ophthalmic corticosteroid medications. These include:

  • Loteprednol
  • Fluocinolone
  • Fluorometholone
  • Dexamethasone
  • Difluprednate
  • Triamcinolone
  • Medrysone
  • Rimexolone 

Dosage

Before taking prednisolone eye drops, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly. Shake the bottle before use if the label instructs you to. Inspect the dropper for signs of damage such as cracks, and avoid touching the dropper with your fingers or anything else to prevent contamination. Follow these instructions for applying the eye drops:

  1. Tilt your head back and, with a clean or gloved index finger, pull back your lower eyelid.
  2. Hold the dropper tip with your other hand, pointing into the open lid. Look up and drop one drop into the lid. Do not let the dropper tip touch your eye or eyelid.
  3. Keep your eye closed for two to three minutes with your face towards the floor. Avoid squeezing your eyes shut or blinking.
  4. If you are prescribed more than one drop at a time, wait five minutes before placing in another drop.
  5. Remove excess medication with a tissue or clean, dry cloth.
  6. Replace the cap on the dropper and do not rinse or wash it. Wash your hands after applying your eye drops.
  7. Repeat two to four times daily, depending on your prescription and doctor’s instructions.
  8. Take all of your medication, even if you begin to feel better.

All listed dosages are according to the drug manufacturer. Check your prescription and talk to your doctor to make sure you are taking the right dose for you.

How to Take and Store

Prednisolone eye drops are only to be taken in the eyes, not in the mouth or elsewhere. Follow all of the instructions and make sure your hands are clean before and after use. If your doctor approves this medication while using contacts, make sure you take them out before administering the drops and wait 15 minutes or more before putting them back in.

If you miss a dose, do not take a double amount at the same time. Take the missed dose as soon as possible, as long as it isn’t already time for your next dose. Space your doses out evenly, usually every two to three hours during the day.

Overdose is not thought to be a risk with prednisolone eye drops. If you or anyone else swallows this medication, drink plenty of water, and call poison control.

Store prednisolone eye drops in its container only, making sure it’s sealed tightly, placed upright, and out of children’s reach. You should avoid storing it in a humid or warm area such as the bathroom. The ideal temperature for storage is between 15°C -30°C (59°-86°F).

If no improvements are noticeable after two days, tell your doctor. Also, notify your doctor if, after taking your entire prescription, you still have symptoms.

You should be able to travel with prednisolone eye drops as long as you declare the medication properly. You can take the medication in your checked luggage or less than 3.4 ounces (100 ml) on carry-on bags when declared.

Side Effects

As with any medication, allergy is a possibility. If you have symptoms of an allergy such as hives, swelling of your throat, lips, face, or tongue, or trouble breathing, get emergency medical care right away.

Common

Common side effects of prednisolone eye drops include:

  • Mild burning or stinging of the eyes
  • Blurry vision
  • Eye irritation

Tell your doctor if these symptoms get worse or don’t go away.

Severe

More severe side effects require emergency medical attention and include:

  • Blurred vision, tunnel vision, seeing a halo effect around lights
  • Eye pain or pain behind your eyes
  • Patches of white or yellow on your eyes
  • Any signs of infections such as pus, leakage, crustiness, swelling, and redness

Warnings and Interactions

Do not get a smallpox vaccine if you are taking prednisolone eye drops. You should not take this medication if you have eye infections. Do not take any other eye medications while taking prednisolone eye drops unless you have your doctor’s permission. 

Talk to your doctor to see if the risks outweigh the benefits of taking prednisolone if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or think you may become pregnant. 

Using this medication for longer than 10 days can increase your risk of developing cataracts. Your risk of glaucoma, optic nerve damage, and vision defects may also occur with prolonged use. Since extended use of steroids can reduce your immune system’s abilities, you may be at an increased risk for eye infections as well. Your cornea and sclera may become thinner with prolonged use of steroid drops. Your doctor will monitor these potential health risks closely.

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  1. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Prednisolone ophthalmic. Updated September 15, 2017.

  2. Food and Drug Administration. Pred Mild. Updated June 2018.

  3. Transportation Security Administration. What can I bring?