Never Use This Common Medication for Longer Than a Week, Experts Warn

Using this for too long could result in scary side effects.

If you have a headache, you pop an ibuprofen. If you have indigestion, you take an antacid. And if you have insomnia, you swallow a sleep aid. Many of us depend on medication to relieve any pain or discomfort. However, it's possible to have too much of a good thing—and there's one common medication that can have detrimental effects on your health if it's used for longer than a week, experts say. To make sure you're not overusing this medication and putting yourself at risk, read on.

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Steroid eye drops are prescribed for a variety of conditions.

Young woman uses eye drops for eye treatment. Redness, Dry Eyes, Allergy and Eye Itching

Corticosteroids can be a useful tool to treat inflammation, and any condition that results in significant inflammation in the eye may require the use of steroid eye drops, says comprehensive ophthalmologist Amanda Salter, MD. Salter says the drops are commonly prescribed following eye surgery, such as cataract surgery, Lasik, or retinal surgery.

Lasik surgeon Jeffrey DelloRusso, MD, says they can also be prescribed for various conditions, including "autoimmune and inflammatory conditions such as uveitis [inflammation of the middle of the eye] associated with rheumatoid arthritis and Lupus, as well allergies."

RELATED: 17 Warning Signs Your Eyes Are Trying to Tell You About Your Health.

But you should never use steroid eye drops for longer than a week.

older man using eye drops

Prolonged use of steroid eye drops can be risky. DelloRusso says that while steroid eye drops are a "vital front-line therapy in the treatment of many eye conditions due to their potent and quick ability to control inflammation," they pose the risk of "considerable side effects, which may appear as early as one week into their use." He notes that you should only consider using corticosteroids for longer than a week if you're "under the direction and supervision of your eye care professional."

One kind of steroid eye drop called prednisolone eye drops "are only meant to be used for a short period of time," Michael Stewart, BPharm, MRPharmS, writes for Patient. Like DelloRusso, he also warns that people should not to use them "for longer than one week unless your doctor advises you otherwise … because they can cause problems within your eye."

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Steroid eye drops can have harmful effects if used too long.

Woman putting in eye drops

Salter prolonged use of corticosteroids can lead to an "increased risk of progressive cataract formation and increased eye pressure (and possible subsequent glaucoma)."

DelloRusso adds that increased eye pressure, which can damage the optic nerve, could happen as early as one week into use of certain steroid eye drops.

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You should also be careful about some over-the-counter eye drops.

Woman putting eye drops in dry eyes

Prescription eye drops are not the only ones you should be cautious with. DelloRusso says other over-the-counter (OTC) eye solutions can also lead to side effects if used for several weeks. "OTC allergy or 'red eye' reducing eye drops such as Visine may lead to 'rebound' redness, swelling, and discomfort if overused," warns DelloRusso.

He notes that artificial tears can also cause eye irritation and blurred vision because preservatives are needed to make tears last in a bottle, which "can turn harmful to the surface of the eye with prolonged use."

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