How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Dexamethasone belongs to the family of medications known as corticosteroids. Dexamethasone eye drops and ointment are used to treat a number of eye conditions associated with inflammation of the eye (e.g., allergic conjunctivitis). Dexamethasone works by reducing inflammation, irritation, and redness.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are being given this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop using this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to use this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

This medication is available as an eye drop.

How should I use this medication?

Drops: The usual recommended dose is 1 or 2 drops in the affected eye, 4 to 6 times daily. In some situations, the drops may be given every hour at the start of treatment, followed by a reduction in dose as prescribed by the doctor. Shake the eye drops well before use.

Ointment: The usual recommended dose is a small amount of the ointment applied to the affected eye, 3 to 4 times daily. The dose may be reduced to once daily depending on the response and the condition being treated.

Prevent contamination of the drops and ointment by avoiding touching the dropper or ointment tip to the eye, skin, or other surfaces.

Many things can affect the dose of a medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are using the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to use this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, apply it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not apply a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Store this medication at room temperature and keep it out of the reach of children.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Dexamethasone eye drops and ointment should not be used by anyone who:

  • is allergic to dexamethasone or to any of the ingredients of the medication
  • has fungal eye infections
  • has herpes simplex, vaccinia, varicella, or other viral infections of the eye
  • has tuberculosis of the eye
  • has weeping, untreated bacterial eye infections

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent. The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • temporary blurred vision (after ointment use)

Although most of these side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • eye infection (e.g., eye redness, puss, weeping)
  • eye pain

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • severe eye pain
  • vision changes, including loss of vision

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Contamination: To prevent contamination of the eye drops and ointment, avoid touching the dropper or ointment tip to the eye, skin, or any other surface.

Prolonged use: Prolonged use of this medication can cause eye problems such as glaucoma, optic nerve damage, vision problems, cataracts, and perforation of the cornea. Prolonged used may also increase the risk of fungal and bacterial eye infections. If this medication is used for more than 10 days, your doctor will check your eyes routinely.

Soft contact lenses: The preservative used in dexamethasone eye drops can affect soft contact lenses. Do not instill the eye drops while wearing soft contact lenses. Wait 10 minutes after instilling the drops before inserting soft contact lenses.

Pregnancy: Dexamethasone eye drops and ointment should only be used during pregnancy if the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while using this medication, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Breast-feeding: It is not known whether this medication (when used in the eye) passes into breast milk. If you are breast-feeding, talk to your doctor about whether or not you should use this medication.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of this medication have not been established for children.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications that you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.