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Ganciclovir Ophthalmic

(gan sye' kloe veer)

Brand Name(s): Zirgan®

WHY is this medicine prescribed?

Ganciclovir ophthalmic is used to treat herpetic keratitis (dendritic ulcers; eye ulcers caused by a herpes simplex virus infection). Ganciclovir is in a class of medications called antivirals. It works by stopping the spread of the herpes virus in the eye.

Are there OTHER USES for this medicine?

This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

HOW should this medicine be used?

Ganciclovir ophthalmic comes as a gel to apply to the eyes. It is usually applied as one drop to the affected eye(s) five times a day (about every 3 hours while awake) until the eye(s) heal. Then apply one drop 3 times a day into the affected eye(s) for another 7 days. Use ganciclovir ophthalmic at around the same times every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Use ganciclovir ophthalmic exactly as directed. Do not use more or less of it or use it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

You should expect your symptoms to improve during your treatment. Call your doctor if your symptoms get worse, do not go away, or if you develop other problems with your eyes during your treatment.

To apply the eye gel, follow these instructions:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  2. Avoid touching the tip of the tube against your eye or anything else. The gel must be kept clean.
  3. Tilt your head back slightly and pull down your lower eyelid to create a small pocket.
  4. Holding the tube above the eye with the tip down without touching it.
  5. Place a drop of the gel into the pocket made by the lower lid and the eye by squeezing the bottom of the tube. Look up and away from the tube as you squeeze out a drop of gel.
  6. Close your eye after the drop goes into your eye Gently press your finger on the inside corner of the eye, near your nose, for 1 minute to keep the gel from going into your tear duct.
  7. Wipe off any excess gel from your eyelids and lashes with a clean tissue. Wash your hands again.

Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a copy of the manufacturer's information for the patient.

What SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS should I follow?

Before applying ganciclovir ophthalmic,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to ganciclovir, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in ganciclovir gel. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had other medical conditions.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while using ganciclovir ophthalmic, call your doctor.
  • tell your doctor if you wear contact lenses. Your doctor will tell you not to wear contact lenses during your treatment with ganciclovir or if you have any signs of infection.

What SPECIAL DIETARY instructions should I follow?

Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.

What should I do IF I FORGET to take a dose?

Apply the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not apply extra gel to make up for a missed dose.

What SIDE EFFECTS can this medicine cause?

Ganciclovir ophthalmic may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • red, swelling, irritated, itchy, or teary eyes

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • new or worsening eye sensitivity to light, blurred vision, or eye pain

Ganciclovir ophthalmic may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while using this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

What should I know about STORAGE and DISPOSAL of this medication?

Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom). Do not allow the medication to freeze.

It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org

Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.

What should I do in case of OVERDOSE?

In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.

If someone swallows ganciclovir ophthalmic, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.

What OTHER INFORMATION should I know?

Keep all appointments with your doctor.

Do not let anyone else use your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription. If you still have symptoms of an eye infection after you finish the ganciclovir eye gel, call your doctor.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.


This report on medications is for your information only, and is not considered individual patient advice. Because of the changing nature of drug information, please consult your physician or pharmacist about specific clinical use.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists® represents that the information provided hereunder was formulated with a reasonable standard of care, and in conformity with professional standards in the field. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists® makes no representations or warranties, express or implied, including, but not limited to, any implied warranty of merchantability and/or fitness for a particular purpose, with respect to such information and specifically disclaims all such warranties. Users are advised that decisions regarding drug therapy are complex medical decisions requiring the independent, informed decision of an appropriate health care professional, and the information is provided for informational purposes only. The entire monograph for a drug should be reviewed for a thorough understanding of the drug's actions, uses and side effects. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists® does not endorse or recommend the use of any drug. The information is not a substitute for medical care.

Pronunciation Guide for Drug Names is used with permission. © 2009. The United States Pharmacopeial Convention. All Rights Reserved.

AHFS® Patient Medication Information™. © Copyright, 2020. The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists®, 4500 East-West Highway, Suite 900, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.

Selected Revisions: March 15, 2020.