• Why can’t I use my skin ointment on my eyes?


    Question:

    I use triamcinolone acetonide ointment to help my psoriasis (skin condition). On the tube it says, “Not for ophthalmic use.” In what way would the ointment harm my eyes?


    Answer:

    Ointments that are formulated specifically for skin are usually not used in the eyes. The reason for this is that skin is much less sensitive and has a keratinized outer layer that is protective. The conjunctiva (thin, transparent tissue covering the white of the eye) and cornea (clear front window of the eye), which are the outer layers of the eye, are much more sensitive tissue and more prone to irritation, so formulations that are fine for skin may be extremely irritating to the eyes. Some ointments may cause damage to the sensitive ocular tissues.


    Also, some ointments for the skin might be safe for use in the eyes, but they have not been tested or approved for this purpose. Therefore, if the tube of ointment says, "Not for ophthalmic use," you should heed that warning to avoid possible damage.


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