Gentamicin drops are used to prevent or treat infections in your eye.
Follow the instructions you have been given carefully.
If your vision becomes blurred after using the drops, do not drive until you can see clearly again.
Do not wear contact lenses until your symptoms have completely gone.
About gentamicin eye drops
|Type of medicine||Anti-infective eye drops|
|Used for||Prevention or treatment of eye infections in adults and children|
|Available as||Drops (which are suitable for use in eyes or ears)|
Gentamicin eye drops are prescribed to treat or prevent bacterial infections of your eyes or eyelids. The drops kill bacteria which are the cause of infection.
Eye infections are a common cause of conjunctivitis. In conjunctivitis, your eye becomes inflamed, feels gritty, and may water more than usual. The white of your eye may look red, and your eyelids may become swollen and stuck together with a discharge when you wake up in the morning. Only one eye may be infected to begin with, but it often spreads to both eyes. Most cases of infective conjunctivitis clear within a week or so without treatment. For more severe infections, or for infections which do not clear on their own, an antibiotic eye drop such as gentamicin is used.
Gentamicin eye drops are also prescribed for minor eye injuries, such as scratches and abrasions to the cornea (the outside layer of cells on the eye). In such cases, the drops are prescribed to prevent an eye infection from developing while the eye heals.
Before using gentamicin eye drops
Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start using gentamicin drops it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to gentamicin or to any other antibiotic, or to any other eye drops.
- If you have a condition called myasthenia gravis. This is a condition which causes muscle weakness.
- If you are taking or using any other medicines, including those available to buy without a prescription, herbal and complementary medicines.
How to use gentamicin eye drops
Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from the pack. The leaflet will give you more information about the drops, and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from using them. If your eyes have an obvious discharge or 'crust', it can help if you bathe them with cool clean water before using the drops.
- Wash your hands well.
- Remove the cap from the bottle.
- Tilt your head back a little and gently pull the lower lid of your eye out to form a pocket.
- Hold the bottle upside down near to your eye. Try not to touch your eye as you do this.
- Gently squeeze the bottle to release one drop into your eye.
- Close your eye for a minute or two, and press gently on the side of your nose where the corner of your eye meets your nose. This helps to stop the drop from draining away and keeps it in your eye.
- Repeat the process in your other eye if you have been asked to use the drops in both eyes.
- Replace the cap.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Use the drops exactly as you have been advised by your doctor. It is likely that your doctor will have recommended you use the drops every four hours (that is, six times daily), but it may be more frequently than this, particularly on the first day. Try not to miss any doses. If you forget to put the drops in on time, do it as soon as you remember.
- When you first put a drop into your eye, it may cause blurred vision. This should quickly clear, but make sure you can see clearly before you drive or use machines or tools.
- Your eye should start to feel better within a few days. Continue to use the drops for a further two days after your symptoms have gone. This will help to prevent the infection from coming back.
- Take care to avoid spreading the infection from one eye to the other, and to other members of your family. Washing your hands regularly (particularly after touching your eyes), and not sharing towels or pillows will help to prevent the infection from spreading.
- Eye infections can cause your eyes to become more sensitive to sunlight than usual. Wearing sunglasses may help to prevent this.
- Do not wear contact lenses until your symptoms have completely gone. Wait for 24 hours after the last dose of eye drops before using your lenses again.
- If you are using any other eye drops or eye ointments, leave at least five minutes between applying each preparation.
- If you feel your infection is no better after a week, make another appointment to see your doctor for advice. If you feel your symptoms are becoming worse while you are using gentamicin, you should arrange to see your doctor for advice straightaway. In particular, see your doctor again if your eye becomes painful, if light starts to hurt your eyes, or if your sight is affected.
Can gentamicin eye drops cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. These usually improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following side-effects continue or become troublesome.
|Possible side-effects of gentamicin eye drops
||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Mild irritation, burning or stinging||If this continues or becomes severe, speak with your doctor|
|Blurred eyesight||This should soon pass, but do not drive or use tools or machines until you can see clearly|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to these drops, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.
How to store gentamicin eye drops
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
- Throw away the bottle of eye drops after you have finished your course of treatment, even if there is some left. Do not keep opened bottles to use later, as eye drops must not be used if the bottle has been opened for longer than four weeks.
Important information about all medicines
Never use more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that someone has swallowed some of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital at once. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
If you buy any medicines check with a pharmacist that they are safe to use with your other medicines.
If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are using.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Never keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading & references
- Manufacturer's PIL, Gentamicin Eye/Ear Drops 0.3%; FDC International Ltd, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated December 2010.
- British National Formulary; 65th Edition (Mar 2013) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Prof Cathy Jackson