When you have cataract surgery, you may need to take several eye drops during the initial days of your recovery. Your eye doctor may prescribe antibiotic drops as well as steroid drops that you have to take multiple times per day. These are added to any eye drops you took before the surgery, such as drops for glaucoma. Your doctor might reduce the number of eye drops you need to take by giving you a single-dose steroid after your cataract surgery so you can eliminate the need to take the steroid drops several times a day. Here's how single-dose cataract surgery steroids work.
Why Steroids Are Needed After Cataract Surgery
Cataract surgery causes irritation to your eye, and the irritation leads to inflammation. Steroids are anti-inflammatory drugs. When you put them in your eye by the drop, they control the inflammation caused by cataract surgery so you reduce the risk of damage to your eyes as a complication of swelling. Just like antibiotics are necessary to prevent infection after surgery, steroids are needed to prevent and control inflammation.
However, if you're squeamish about taking eye drops or if you miss your eye now and then, you may prefer to have the steroid drops given by your doctor in a single-dose so you don't have to deal with so many eye drops while you're recovering.
How Single-Dose Cataract Surgery Steroids Are Taken
Your doctor places the medication in your eye at the end of the cataract surgery procedure. The medication is delivered in a droplet that slowly releases the steroid medication over a period of many days. This saves you from dealing with putting in the eye drops and it ensures that no dosage will be missed.
You may also have to take NSAID drops for supplemental protection from inflammation, and your eye doctor might also prescribe an additional steroid if it's needed. You'll be evaluated on your need for post-op medications based on your medical history and your risk for inflammation after the procedure.
While taking a single-dose steroid is convenient, your doctor assesses your eye health to determine if it's a good match for you. Steroids are linked to increased pressure in the eyes, so your doctor may need to use caution when you have glaucoma or other eye diseases.
If you self-administer steroid drops instead, take them and your other eye medications according to your doctor's instructions and notify your eye doctor if you develop side effects or complications that could indicate an eye infection or irritation is developing so you can get prompt treatment.