What is the role of topical steroids in the treatment of viral conjunctivitis (pink eye)?

Updated: Mar 24, 2020
  • Author: Ingrid U Scott, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Andrew A Dahl, MD, FACS  more...
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Answer

Topical steroids may be used for pseudomembranes or when subepithelial infiltrates impair vision, although subepithelial infiltrates may recur after discontinuing the steroids. Extreme caution should be taken when using corticosteroids, as they may worsen an underlying HSV infection and may lead to long-term dependence.

A study by Wilkins et al focused on whether topical steroids improve the comfort of patients compared with hypromellose in acute presumed viral conjunctivitis. It found that the use of a short course of topical dexamethasone for patients with acute follicular conjunctivitis presumed to be viral in origin was not harmful. [10]


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