Eye infections such as blepharitis, conjunctivitis, or keratitis give rise to symptoms such as redness, swelling, discharge, pain, eye fatigue, and itchiness. Different types of ophthalmic solutions and drugs are used for treating infections and inflammatory conditions that affect the eyes. These include artificial tears/gels, antihistamines, mast cell stabilisers, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, corticosteroid, antibiotic and antiviral eye drops or ointments. Antibiotic ophthalmic solutions are basically suspension of drugs that are used for treating bacterial infections. These medicated ophthalmic solutions might even be used for preventing eye infections.
These are classified into broad-spectrum and narrow-spectrum. While the former is effective against a wide range of bacteria, the latter is used for killing a specific group of bacteria. These eye drops are basically categorised into bacteriocidal, bacteriostatic and combination eye drops. Bacteriocidal drops contain certain active compounds that have the ability to kill bacteria. These are suspension of drugs that contain active compounds that target essential chemical pathways, inner cell membrane, and outer cell wall and interrupt the chemical processes that help these bacteria grow.
Many of these drops contain aminglycosides. These act against certain types of bacteria. These are especially effective against pseudomonas. This bacterium is generally responsible for the contamination of contact lenses. Neomycin, tobramycin, amikacin, and gentamycin are all classified as aminoglycosides.
The bacteriostatic drugs don't kill bacteria, but prevent them from multiplying. Bacteriostatic drops are usually prescribed for the treatment of conjunctivitis. Sometimes ophthalmic solutions might also contain other drugs. These are referred to as combination eye drops. These are generally used to treat emergency cases. This kind of treatment is based on the principle of antibiotic synergism. Sometimes, the combined effect of different types of drugs is more effective than using individual drugs. When the bacterial strain hasn't been identified and the bacterium seems to be capable of a great deal of harm, antibiotics and steroids are generally combined together for the treatment. These can also help in prevention of the development of resistant strains of bacteria. The ophthalmic solutions that are commonly used for treating bacterial infections include ciprofloxacin, erythromycin, ofloxacin, tobramycin, and monofloxacin.
Side effects of antibiotic eye drops
Over-the-counter availability of ophthalmic solutions is becoming a major cause of concern. It is always better to buy eye drops prescribed by an ophthalmologist, as the prolonged use of these drops can lead to the development of strains of bacteria that are resistant to these drugs. Moreover, antibiotic eye drops must not be used for infections that are caused by viruses, parasites, or exposure to allergens. Certain bacterial infections need to be treated with the help of target-specific antibiotics. Using broad-spectrum drugs might not help in treating such infections.
Sometimes, the use of these medicated ophthalmic solutions could lead to redness, itchiness, severe stinging sensation, or blurred vision. In such cases, discontinue using that particular eye drop/ointment and consult an ophthalmologist immediately.
You must use these medicated drops only under the supervision of a doctor. Don't self-medicate, as using medicated drops for a long period could lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.