Eye ointment with cortisone

Which are there?

There are various cortisone preparations that are used in ophthalmology in the form of eye ointments. They contain different active ingredients, each of which can be found in different commercial preparations. The active ingredient dexamethasone is contained in Jenapharm®, for example. Prednisolone is the active ingredient that is contained in Ultracortenol®, for example. Betamethason ® HEXAL was named after its active ingredient Betamethason. The commercial preparation Efflumidex® contains fluorometholone. Hydrocortisone POS® got its name according to its active substance hydrocortisone. But Ficortril® also contains hydrocortisone.

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Are there any over the counter?

There are eye ointments with cortisone that are available without a prescription. The dose in over-the-counter eye ointments containing cortisone is usually low. Accordingly, both the effect and the side effects are lower. But with prolonged or incorrect use, even an over-the-counter eye ointment with cortisone can cause damage. Therefore, it is strongly advised to discuss the use with a doctor.

When should an eye ointment containing cortisone be used?

Eye ointments with cortisone are used for allergic reactions and allergic conjunctivitis. In addition, they are often recommended for non-infectious inflammations, such as non-infectious eyelid inflammation or corneal inflammation of the eye. Eye ointments with cortisone are also used for concomitant diseases, so-called immunological inflammations of the eye.

They are also used for some rheumatic diseases. An eye ointment with cortisone can provide relief for an inflammation of the diaphragm of the eye in the context of ankylosing spondylitis. In addition, in some phases of herpes disease, the use of eye ointments with cortisone in combination with other medications can be advisable. Often eye ointments are used in addition to eye drops. In addition, eye ointments containing cortisone are combined with antibiotics. They are also often used after surgical operations on the eye.

Read more on the topic: Conjunctivitis

What does the eye ointment contain and how does it work?

In the adrenal cortex of the body, among other things, the so-called cortisone / cortisol or hydrocortisol is produced naturally by the body and processed by the body. It is one of the so-called glucocorticoids. The effect of natural cortisol or cortisone is very weak. Synthetically, however, it is possible to produce a medically applicable active ingredient by specifically modifying the substance. The synthetically produced cortisone has a wide range of effects, including in ophthalmology. The effects are dose-dependent. In eye ointments with cortisone, the base consists of hydrocarbons. Usually they also contain petroleum jelly, paraffin or wool wax and different doses of cortisone.

Eye ointments with cortisone have a local anti-inflammatory and allergy-reducing effect. This effect is based on the fact that cortisone inhibits a certain enzyme in the body and thereby stops early and late inflammatory reactions.

The early reaction is understood to mean all processes at the cell level that lead to certain signs of inflammation. For example, this can be inflammation-related swellings in the eye. The late reaction summarizes all processes at the cellular level that are part of the (excessive, uncontrolled) growth of vessels and cells.

Eye ointments with cortisone can therefore relieve symptoms such as:

  • Burn
  • itch
  • Redness
  • Swelling

Act. The anti-inflammatory effect of cortisone in eye ointments is known as the anti-inflammatory effect. The inhibiting effect on allergic reactions is summarized as the antiallergic effect. But cortisone in eye ointments also suppresses the body's own defense system. This is known as an immunosuppressive effect.

Read more on the topic: Cortisone

Side effects

Possible side effects of eye ointments with cortisone can generally be allergic reactions such as skin and conjunctivitis. The eyeball may protrude. Some people have reported stinging and burning or oozing blisters, especially when the eye ointment was used after cataract surgery. In addition, poor corneal care and corneal damage could be observed.

All of these side effects are rare. In some cases the cornea and dermis of the eye could be damaged. Delayed wound healing was observed as a further side effect. The drooping of the upper eyelid and the widening of the pupil occurred in an unknown number after the application of the eye ointment with cortisone. Fungal infections of the cornea were often developed with long-term use. Depending on the preparation, there was rarely or often an increase in intraocular pressure. In addition, impaired visual acuity, damage to the optic nerve and a restriction of the visual field could be observed with existing predisposition. Lens opacities occurred rarely.


With external, local application of cortisone preparations such as eye ointments with cortisone, interactions with other substances are very rare.

When should an eye ointment containing cortisone not be used?

Eye ointments with cortisone must not be used (are contraindicated) if allergies to the ingredients or components of the ointment are known. In the case of a superficial herpes simplex infection of the cornea, eye ointments with cortisone are contraindicated.

Eye ointments with cortisone may only be used under certain conditions and in combination with antibiotic agents for bacterial, viral and fungal infections of the eye. Otherwise there is a risk that inflammation can be intensified. In the case of ulcers or injuries to the cornea of ​​the eye, eye ointments with cortisone must not be used. In addition, they are contraindicated for dry eyes, as well as for existing increased eye pressure and high myopia. In addition, the use of eye ointments with cortisone should be avoided in the case of eye tuberculosis.

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As a rule, a 0.5 cm long strip of the respective eye ointment with cortisone should be applied to the eye. At best, the eye ointment is applied before going to bed. The exact duration of treatment should be discussed individually with the doctor. In most cases, the use of eye ointments with cortisone should not exceed 14 days. If the dosage is too strong or too weak, this should be discussed with the doctor.


The price of eye ointments with cortisone depends on the preparation and manufacturer. The prices can usually fluctuate between 5 and 25 euros. Over-the-counter eye ointments with cortisone must always be paid for by yourself.

Alternatives to eye ointments with cortisone

Depending on the cause and extent of the eye discomfort, alternative creams and remedies without cortisone may be helpful. However, caution is advised here. The more precisely the cause is known, the better an effective alternative can be considered together with the doctor.

Read more on the topic: Eye ointments

Can it be used during pregnancy and breastfeeding?

The use of eye ointments with cortisone is possible during pregnancy and breastfeeding, but should be avoided if possible. Because the active ingredient can possibly get into the body. Long-term treatment in particular can lead to growth disorders and damage to the unborn child.

If the desire to become pregnant is currently present or the suspicion of being pregnant or a pregnancy already exists, a discussion with the doctor should definitely take place. The active ingredient in eye ointments containing cortisone can pass into breast milk. So far, no harm is known from breastfeeding a child with simultaneous use of eye ointments with cortisone. Nevertheless, cortisone preparations should be avoided as far as possible during breastfeeding. Here, too, it is advisable to talk to the doctor.

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