Ocular inflammatory diseases impose a significant medical and economic burden on society. Corticosteroids are potent anti-inflammatory agents that have been used successfully to treat ocular inflammation. Topical corticosteroids provide maximal drug delivery, and are used to reduce the signs and symptoms of intraocular and ocular surface inflammation. However, side effects associated with topical corticosteroids—including increased intraocular pressure, risk of cataract formation after long-term use, and decreased resistance to infection—are concerns. Loteprednol etabonate (LE) is an ester corticosteroid with a high therapeutic index that contains an ester, rather than a ketone, at carbon-20 of the prednisolone core structure. LE blocks the release and action of inflammatory mediators and is clinically effective in the treatment of steroid-responsive inflammatory conditions including giant papillary conjunctivitis, seasonal (intermittent) allergic conjunctivitis and uveitis. LE relieves ocular surface and lacrimal gland inflammation associated with dry eye and is used in combination with ciclosporin A as a treatment of dry eye. LE is also effective in the treatment of postoperative ocular inflammation. Because of its rapid de-esterification to inactive metabolites, LE appears to have an improved safety profile compared with ketone corticosteroids, and may be more suitable than ketone corticosteroids for the treatment for ocular inflammatory conditions in which long-term therapy is necessary. However, further comparative safety studies are needed.
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Competing interests: CEP provides consulting services to Bausch & Lomb, Inc. HHD is an employee of Bausch & Lomb, Inc.