Many times, I will prescribe a medication for a specific type of eye infection. Generally, within a few days the condition is remedied. What do you do with the left over medication. Generally I’ll have the patient hold onto to it for up to couple of weeks after the eyes have healed. After that I’ll have them discard it.
Some patient may decide to use the residual medication for another infection perhaps six months later. At best, the drops will start to burn. At worst, it could make the new infection a lot worse, especially if it’s not the same type of infection. Here’s a good example. A patient comes into the office with a bacterial conjunctivitis and we prescribe a combination antibiotic and steroid and it really works well on the infection. Three months later the patient develops a red eye. It has been diagnosed as a herpes virus. If the patient decided to treat this conditions with the left over medication, the patient’s vision could be in jeopardy. The antibiotic would have no effect on the virus and the steroid could actually make the virus grow.