Steroids are the fastest-acting and most potent drugs used to treat inflammation. There are several types of steroids, common ones being DEXAMETHASONE, PREDNISOLONE, PREDNISONE, METHYLPREDNISOLONE, BETAMETHASONE, and TRIAMCINOLONE.

Steroids may be given in many forms, including eyedrops, injections, pills or intravenously (IV). Eyedrops are used to treat some ocular surface inflammation and inflammation in the front of the eye such as IRITIS. When the inflammation is deeper in the eye, steroid injections around the eye or even directly into the eye may be necessary. Oral or IV steroid therapy may be necessary when treating SCLERITIS, PERIPHERAL ULCERATIVE KERATITIS, and severe UVEITIS and RETINAL VASCULITIS.

Steroids have many systemic side effects. Almost every organ system is affected by steroid therapy, and long term use of steroids can cause the weakening of the bones, thinning of the skin, diabetes, weight gain and changes in fat distribution around the body, to name only a few problems. Steroid therapy also has ocular side effects, including cataracts and elevation in intraocular pressure. For this reason, long term steroid therapy should be avoided whenever possible.

In patients with ocular inflammation, the risks of steroid therapy are always weighed against the risk of not using these drugs to treat the active disease. Generally, in the short term, steroid therapy causes fewer problems than does ocular inflammation, and so judicious use of these drugs is safe and very effective for patients who need them.
The Medline plus website of the National Library of Medicine has excellent information on SYSTEMIC CORTICOSTEROIDS