Tobramycin for eye infections (Tobravisc)

Use the drops twice a day for seven days, unless you have been told otherwise by your doctor.

Your vision may become slightly blurred for a short while after using the drops. If so, do not drive or use tools or machines until you can see clearly again.

Do not wear contact lenses until your symptoms have completely gone.

Type of medicineAntibacterial eye preparation
Used forEye infections in adults and children
Also calledTobravisc®
Tobradex® (contains tobramycin with dexamethasone)
Available asEye drops

Tobramycin eye drops are prescribed to treat bacterial eye infections. They work by helping to kill the germs (bacteria) which are causing the 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. Although infective conjunctivitis may clear without treatment, for more severe infections or for infections which do not clear on their own, antibiotic eye drops like tobramycin are helpful.

Tobramycin is also available combined with a medicine called dexamethasone in eye drops called Tobradex®. This combination brand helps to prevent infection and reduces inflammation after eye cataract surgery.

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 tobramycin eye drops it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic, or to any eye drops.
  • If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  1. Wash your hands before you use the drops.
  2. Remove the cap from the bottle.
  3. Tilt your head back a little and pull the lower lid of your eye downwards to form a pocket.
  4. Hold the bottle upside down near to your eye. Try not to touch your eye as you do this.
  5. Gently press on the base of the bottle to release one drop into your eye. Only use a second drop if the first drop missed going into your eye.
  6. 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.
  7. Repeat the process in your other eye if you have been told to use the drops in both eyes.
  8. Replace the cap.
  • Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from the pack. It will give you more information about the drops and will provide you with a full list of any 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 tobramycin drops.
  • Use the drops twice a day - in the morning and in the evening. (If your infection is particularly severe, your doctor may ask you to use the drops four times on the first day.) Try not to miss any doses, but if you do forget to put the drops in on time, do it as soon as you remember.
  • You should continue to use the drops for seven days unless your doctor has told you otherwise. If your infection is no better after this time, make another appointment to see your doctor for advice.
  • When you first put the drops into your eye, they may cause blurred vision. This should quickly clear, but make sure you can see clearly before you drive or use machines or tools.
  • 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.
  • If you are using any other eye drops, leave 5-10 minutes between applying each preparation. This is to prevent more liquid going into your eye than it can handle. Otherwise the drops will overflow from your eye and not have the intended effect.
  • If your symptoms become worse despite using tobramycin, 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.
  • 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.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with tobramycin eye drops. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with the drops. Speak with your doctor if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Common tobramycin eye drop side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people)What can I do if I experience this?
Eye itching, discomfort, or rednessIf troublesome, speak with your doctor. They may be symptoms of the infection; or, they may indicate that you have an allergy to the drops

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the eye drops, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.

  • 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 the course of treatment, even if there is some liquid left. Never keep opened bottles of eye drops to use later.

Make sure that the person supplying this medicine knows about any other medicines that you are taking or using. This includes any medicines you have bought, and herbal and homeopathic 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.

If you suspect that someone might have swallowed some of this medicine, contact your local accident and emergency department for advice.

Do not 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

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.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Helen Huins
Document ID:
13869 (v2)
Last Checked:
04/02/2015
Next Review:
03/02/2018
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