Widespread illegal sale of steroid eye drops has caused dozens of patients to develop cataracts, blurred vision and even blindness, eye specialists said, following a Consumer Council report released yesterday. The council report came after a six-year-old boy with an eye infection went blind last year. He had used steroid eye drops for more than 12 months without proper medical supervision. 'I have seen more than 20 cases of steroid-induced blindness and many more developing other problems during my 10 years at the Prince of Wales Hospital,' said Dr Patrick Ho Chi-ping, the former head of the hospital's eye unit. 'It's so abused because the drug is almost magical in getting rid of red eye and physical discomfort in such a short time.' Lo Chi-kin, the Consumer Council's publicity and community relations committee chairman, said it was well-known that the drug was being illegally sold. 'Customers are warned not to use these eye drops without the guidance of a physician,' he said. The eye drops are often used to treat inflammation after eye surgery. But improper use can cause blindness, according to Hong Kong Ophthalmological Society president Dr Ho Chi-kin.