After eye surgery, there are several eye drops to help you recuperate, and heal, quickly. These eye drops usually include an antibiotic, anti-inflammatory, and sometimes, an eye drop to keep you dilated for comfort.
There are many types of eye surgery; cataract, glaucoma, corneal, retina, etc. In general, the post-operative medications/drops that we use are about the same.
These usually come packaged in a bottle with a tan colored top. It may be used 4 times a day. The drop is clear and may be prescribed to be used 4 times per day.
Remember that eye drops do not penetrate the eye very well, so it is probable that the antibiotics really help the outside of the eye and the actual incision (i.e. place where your surgeon “cut” into your eye) from becoming infected.
One of the unfortunate complications of any intraocular surgery is endophthalmitis, an infection of the contents of the eye. I doubt the topical drops actually fight any infection inside the eye per se.
These usually come in a white or pink capped bottle. I prefer a steroid called prednisolone acetate 1% (e.g. Pred Forte, Omni Pred). It is milky white. This drop must be shaken prior to instillation. It is really a suspension, that is, the drop contains microscopic particles of drug that settle out.
Other anti-inflammatories included Xibrom or Acular. These are not steroids and probably not as strong.
Anti-inflammatory drops help the eye keep comfortable during the healing. If we limit the post-operative inflammation, there should be less discomfort.
Some operations and some docs require dilating drops after the operation. These are in a bright red topped dropper. These are very similar to what is used in the office to dilate your eyes for examination.
Occasionally, it is helpful to keep the pupil dilated during the recovery period. I like to use these drops at the end of an operation. The drops I use will keep the pupil dilated for a day or two, but I don’t have to wait for dilation the next day for the follow-up exam.
Certain dilating drops can also cause “cycloplegia” in addition to simple pupillary dilation. One of muscles inside the eye, the ciliary muscle, can sometimes spasm, causing severe pain and discomfort. “Cycloplegia” prevents this from occurring and helps keep the eye comfortable. The ciliary muscle also helps focus, so vision become blurry.
What Does This Mean? Most of the post-operative medicines we use are topical drops. Oral medicines usually aren’t necessary. Most of the drops are really used to promote smooth, comfortable healing, the antibiotics being the exception.
Oral pain relievers generally are not required. I rarely have to prescribe anything by mouth regardless of the procedures I performed. The operation I perform requiring the most tissue manipulation is a scleral buckle. Even with this procedure, oral pain relievers are not necessary. (Of course, this is surgeon dependent and reflects the way I practice only.)