Medications for the Ears and Eyes


Ear and Eye medicationFor an ear infection, a physician usually prescribes an antibiotic drug and a steroid drug or a single medication that contains a combination of the two. The antibiotic attacks the infecting bacteria, and the steroid reduces the inflammation and pain from the infection. Often, a local anesthetic, such as benzocaine or lidocaine, may also be administered or prescribed to relieve pain.


Almost all drugs used to treat eye problems can be used to treat disorders of other parts of the body.

Glaucoma is one of the major disorders of the eye, causing increased pressure within the eyeball. It is of special concern to people older than 40 years of age. Although glaucoma is sometimes treated surgically, pressure in the eye can usually be reduced and blindness prevented through eye drops. Frequently prescribed drugs for this purpose are timolol, betaxolol, dorzolamide, and latanoprost.

Timolol and betaxolol are beta-blocking drugs that work against glaucoma by decreasing the production of aqueous humor (fluid) in the eye. Unless they have a history of heart failure or asthma, most patients with glaucoma can use a beta-blocker. Beta-blocking drugs account for most of the glaucoma medications sold. Dorzolamide is a carbonic anhydrase inhibitor, which works differently from beta-blockers to decrease the amount of fluid the eye produces. Sometimes, a beta-blocker and a carbonic anhydrate inhibitor will be combined in a single drug product. Latanoprost is a prostaglandin analog that works to treat glaucoma by increasing fluid outflow from the eye.

Eyedrops containing steroids or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can be used to treat non-infectious eye inflammations as long as they are not used for an extended period of time. Pharmacists carefully monitor refill requests for eyedrops, particularly if the drops contain steroids. They may refuse to refill such prescriptions until you have revisited your doctor. Such caution is necessary because, with long-term use, these products can cause additional eye problems. Topical antibiotic medications are also used to treat bacterial eye infections. Other types of eye drops are sometimes prescribed to treat eye infections, itchy eyes associated with allergies, or redness due to minor eye irritation.


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