Self-medication with over the counter ophthalmic preparations: is it safe?
Authors:Int J Biol Med Res. 2011; 2(2): 528 – 530
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Aim: This study was conducted to evaluate the misuse of ‘Over the Counter’ (OTC) ophthalmic topical preparations, to determine the public attitudes to and knowledge of such self-medication, and the factors motivating the indiscriminate use of these easily available remedies.
Method: Responses to a semi-structured questionnaire covering various aspects of OTC eye drops and ointments usage were obtained from patients attending an ophthalmic out-patient department.
Results: 116 patients took part in this cross-sectional study. 115 (99.1%) of the patients had no awareness of OTC ophthalmic preparations. Redness in 52 (44.8%) was the most common complaint for which the patient opted self medication, followed by itching in 21(18.1%) and foreign body sensation in 17 (14.7%). 41 (35%) of the patients did not know what drug they had obtained. 28 (24.1%) obtained chloramphenicol ointment, 34 (29.3%), decongestant preparation containing naphazoline hydrochloride, 6 (5.2%), gentamicin and 7 (6%), ciprofloxacin eye drops. Conditions worsened in 11 (9.5%). Accessibility in 88 (86.3%) was the most important motivating factor for obtaining OTC eye medication.
Conclusion: OTC ophthalmic topical drugs that are meant for self-medication are of proven efficacy and safety. Misuse and abuse of these medications due to lack of knowledge of their side effects has to curbed. Educating the public about the dangers of self-diagnosis and treatment, possibly leading to delay in detection of more serious underlying ailments, is essential.