These eye drops and ointments contain a combination of a steroid and one or more types of antibiotic for treatment of infection and inflammation of the eye. The steroid reduces inflammation while the antibiotic treats or prevents infection which may be the cause of the infection. Examples of steroids that are used in these eye drops are hydrocortisone, loteprednol, prednisolone, and dexamethasone . Examples of antibiotics used in these formulations include tobramycin, neomycin, bacitracin, polymixin B, and gentamycin. These antibiotics have different mechanisms of action and two or three may be combined in one formulation.
Corticosteroids have been used as drug treatment for some time. Lewis Sarett of Merck & Co. was the first to synthesize cortisone, using a complicated 36-step process that started with deoxycholic acid, which was extracted from ox bile .  The low efficiency of converting deoxycholic acid into cortisone led to a cost of US $200 per gram. Russell Marker , at Syntex , discovered a much cheaper and more convenient starting material, diosgenin from wild Mexican yams . His conversion of diosgenin into progesterone by a four-step process now known as Marker degradation was an important step in mass production of all steroidal hormones, including cortisone and chemicals used in hormonal contraception .  In 1952, . Peterson and . Murray of Upjohn developed a process that used Rhizopus mold to oxidize progesterone into a compound that was readily converted to cortisone.  The ability to cheaply synthesize large quantities of cortisone from the diosgenin in yams resulted in a rapid drop in price to US $6 per gram, falling to $ per gram by 1980. Percy Julian's research also aided progress in the field.  The exact nature of cortisone's anti-inflammatory action remained a mystery for years after, however, until the leukocyte adhesion cascade and the role of phospholipase A2 in the production of prostaglandins and leukotrienes was fully understood in the early 1980s.
Addiction to cortisone was the subject of the 1956 motion picture, Bigger Than Life , produced by and starring James Mason . Though it was a box-office flop upon its initial release,  many modern critics hail it as a masterpiece and brilliant indictment of contemporary attitudes towards mental illness and addiction.  In 1963, Jean-Luc Godard named it one of the ten best American sound films ever made.  John F. Kennedy needed to regularly use corticosteroids such as cortisone as a treatment for Addison's Disease .