Eye Drops to Help You Heal

Eye Drops to Help You Heal

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.

Anti-Inflammatory Drops

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.

Dilating Drops

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.)

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  • Fran Taylor
    Posted at 00:58h, 17 May Reply

    What about a treatment for dry eyes after several months of surgery? Could these topical drops be effective for that as well? I learned from some eye doctors (Indianapolis) that some dry eyes incident cannot be successfully relieved by eye drops alone.

    This is an interesting post by the way. I’ve been searching for different types of treatment for dry eyes after surgery. Looking forward to read more posts from you about post-operative care.

  • Pingback:Post-Operative Eye Patches
    Posted at 07:43h, 17 May Reply

    […] cataract surgeons often have the patch removed later in the day so post-operative eye drops can be started right away.  I’ve even heard of a few surgeons that forget the patch all […]

  • Concern
    Posted at 08:19h, 08 August Reply

    I am being worked up for Catarac surgery both eyes. I have reactions to Prednisone. They want to do a trial test with the Prednison eye drops prior to surgery. I am concern that should I have a reaction to the Prednisone eye drops what will the outcome be? Is there an alternative medication that could be used? Is there much of a difference between Prednisone oral and Prednisone eye drops? My reactions to oral Prednisone, hives, rash, difficult breathing, feels hot, numbness, incoherent and thickness of the tongue..

  • Jack
    Posted at 21:55h, 12 March Reply

    Thanks for the great site Dr. Wong…no pun intended…

    My mother in law had cataract surgery and we were looking for info on Prednisolone Actetated Suspension…and idea why the instructions typed on the label would read…Instill one (1) Drop(s) in right eye every three hours for 21 days? I imagine they will take her off of this in a couple of days. Surgery was yesterday. Now does every three hours mean around the clock or while awake? Thanks.

  • Chester
    Posted at 20:32h, 28 March Reply

    I just had cataract surgery, and the doctor did NOT install the patch, but gave instructions that it was to be used when I napped or went to bed. I used it for a couple of nights, then discontinued due to not being able to sleep very well with that thing taped to my face. Just completed one week followup, and things are going well.

  • chil
    Posted at 09:37h, 24 May Reply


    Can some eye drops (for either post op or pre-op), actually help diminish pigment deposits on the sclera (i.e. eye freckles, or pigments around the corneal limbus)? I noticed some deposits I had have faded slightly after an eye surgery, and I would like to know what accounted for this. I believe the drops I was prescribed after surgery is called Tobramycin, but I do not know what drops were used on my eye during surgery. Any advice would be appreciated.

    • Randall V. Wong, M.D.
      Posted at 23:16h, 09 June Reply


      Doubt it was the drops. May be either recently noticed or part of healing? Sorry. No advice, but just my best guess.


  • chil
    Posted at 23:23h, 09 June Reply

    Hi Dr. Wong,

    It’s me again. The flat pigment spot was discovered late last year (but I don’t know how long it might’ve been there prior to my discover of it), and the surgery I had on a different type of nevus was in March of this year, it was immediately after surgery that I noticed the spot had changed and got smaller. I can’t think of why this would happen other than the drops had some sort of affect. Thank you anyway!

    • Randall V. Wong, M.D.
      Posted at 13:45h, 10 June Reply

      Dear Chil,

      Sometimes pigment changes can occur after surgery and are benign. I’d make sure to alert your doctor.


  • Muhammad Amin
    Posted at 08:31h, 07 November Reply

    Which eye drop i use after squint surgery

    • Mike Rosco
      Posted at 20:08h, 03 March Reply

      Hello Muhammad,

      Apologies for the delay in response. Regarding drops to use after your procedure, this is a conversation best had by you and your surgeon.

      Warm regards,

      Dr. Mike Rosco

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