Eye ointments are a class of medication used to treat a variety of health issues associated with the eyes. The typical eye ointment is a sterile preparation of medicine that is applied to the lower eyelid, either on the surface of the lid, or just underneath. When applied in this manner, the ointment can help to ease irritation as well as provide a consistent round of treatment for various types of eye infections.
It is important to note that eye drops are often confused with eye ointments. While both compounds are used to soothe and treat different eye conditions, the texture of eye drops is somewhat thinner and more watery. Drops are also formulated for application directly to the eye, and not to the eyelid. In contrast, the consistency of most eye ointments is thicker and includes antibiotics to aid in treating an infection as well as alleviating the pain associated with the particular ailment.
Another important difference involves the introduction of moisture along the surface of the eye. Drops primarily aid in the process of treating rough, dry eyes by adding additional fluid to the surface of the eye. While many eye ointments do provide some type of moisture, the products also provide a more aggressive treatment for redness due to eyestrain or allergies, ease pain associated with dryness, and in general reduce just about any type of irritation to a greater degree than simple drops.
Depending on the type of eye condition that exists, both eye ointments and drops may be used. In general, the drops will help to ease discomfort, while ointments treat the underlying condition. However, many ointments also include properties that are intended to treat pain as well as minimize bacterial and other types of infections. In some cases, the ointments also provide a barrier that protects the eye as it recovers from injury or some type of surgical procedure.
The process for applying an eye ointment is relatively straightforward. Using a sterile pad or a soft cloth, the ointment is gently applied to the lower eyelid. From there, the product can be gently worked between the lid and the eye if necessary. For minor infections, a physician may recommend that a patient utilize one of the several over the counter eye ointments on the market today. In situations where the infection has progressed considerably, stronger eye ointments that are available only by prescription may be required.