Red eye is a common eye symptom and the most common drugs abused in a bid to treat it are antibiotics.

One fateful day, Nnamdi (not real name) woke up with a red eye and thought it was the usual conjunctivitis, a condition commonly known as “apollo”. As he has always done in the past with apparent success, he went to the pharmacy and got chloramphenicol eye drop. 3 days after, he showed up in pain, extremely sensitive to light and unable to see anything below the first 2 lines on the chart. On examination, his pupil was unreactive to light and inside his eye was hazy. It turns out he had uveitis, a condition in which one or more parts of the middle layer of the eye (comprising the iris, ciliary body and choroid) gets inflammed. Unfortunately, non-infective uveitis does not respond to antibiotics, and without the right treatment it can cause vision loss.

When you develop a red eye, it is okay to wait or try home remedies for a period of about 24 hours and then visit the eye clinic if there is no improvement. It is however not okay to self-diagnose and treat your condition with antibiotics. In addition to the possibility of your eye condition worsening, you increase the risk of these eye drops not working for you in future when a real need for them arises.

Always get an appropriate diagnosis and prescription from your doctor before you use antibiotics for red eye or any other condition.

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