Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory eye drops

Also called NSAID eye drops

Key points about non-steroidal anti-inflammatory eye drops

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory eye drops are used to reduce pain and inflammation (eg, swelling, redness and throbbing), for example after eye surgery.
  • Examples include Voltaren Ophtha (diclofenac) and Ilevro (nepafenac).
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Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory eye drops are used to reduce pain and inflammation (eg, swelling, redness and throbbing), for example after eye surgery, cataract surgery or pain after trauma to the cornea. Examples include Voltaren Ophtha (diclofenac) and Ilevro (nepafenac).

They belong to a group of medicines called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Before prescribing these eye drops your doctor will have checked your eye(s) to make sure this is the right medicine for you.

Before you use NSAID eye drops, tell your doctor about all your medical conditions and all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Make sure you tell your doctor:

  • If you have ever experienced allergic reactions to other NSAID medicines such as ibuprofen, diclofenac, aspirin.
  • If you have a tendency to bleed or are taking any medicines that may prolong bleeding such as aspirin, warfarin and other anticoagulants.

Take note of this general information when using eye drops.

  • Avoid contact lenses: Don't use eye drops while you're wearing contact lenses. Remove contact lenses before use and don't put them back in for 15 minutes after using the drops. For some eye drops, it's best to avoid wearing contact lenses during treatment as the drops can damage your lenses. Check with your pharmacist, ophthalmologist or optometrist.
  • If you're using more than one eye medicine: Use different eye drops at least 5 minutes apart. If you're using drops and eye ointment in the same eye, always use the drops first and wait 5 minutes before applying the ointment.
  • Avoid contamination: Take care not to touch your eyelids, fingers or any other surface with the dropper tip of the bottle. To keep the drops free from germs, keep the eye drop bottle tightly closed when not in use.

Read more about how to use eye drops.

Like all medicines, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory eye drops can cause side effects but not everyone gets them.

Common side effects include slight eye irritation and stinging. These usually settle quickly. 

Rarely, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory eye drops can also cause corneal melting. Symptoms of corneal melting include worsening eye pain, eye irritation, discharge, blinking or twitching, sensitivity to light and reduced vision.

If you notice these symptoms, stop using your eye drops and contact your doctor immediately to prevent further eye damage.

You may have an increased risk of corneal melting from NSAID eye drops with the following:

  • Regular use of NSAID eye drops or long term use.
  • Using NSAID eyedrops together with steroid eye drops.
  • Eye infections, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, ocular surface disease.
  • Recent complicated eye surgery or many eye surgeries within a short period of time.

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Credits: Healthify He Puna Waiora editorial team. Healthify is brought to you by Health Navigator Charitable Trust.

Reviewed by: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist.

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