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Dexamethasone Ophthalmic

(dex a meth' a sone)

Brand Name(s): Dexair, Maxidex®Dexacidin® (as a combination product containing Dexamethasone, Neomycin, Polymyxin B)Dexasporin® (as a combination product containing Dexamethasone, Neomycin, Polymyxin B), Maxitrol® (as a combination product containing Dexamethasone, Neomycin, Polymyxin B), Neodecadron® (as a combination product containing Dexamethasone, Neomycin), TobraDex® (as a combination product containing Dexamethasone, Tobramycin); also available generically

WHY is this medicine prescribed?

Dexamethasone reduces the irritation, redness, burning, and swelling of eye caused by chemicals, heat, radiation, infection, allergy, or foreign bodies in the eye. It is sometimes used after eye surgery.

Are there OTHER USES for this medicine?

Dexamethasone eye drops may be used to reduce redness, burning, and swelling or inflammation in the ear. Talk to your doctor about the possible risks of using this drug for your condition.

This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

HOW should this medicine be used?

Dexamethasone comes as eyedrops and eye ointment. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Use dexamethasone exactly as directed. Do not use more or less of it or use it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

If you are using the suspension form of dexamethasone eyedrops (Maxidex), shake the bottle well before each dose. It is not necessary to shake dexamethasone eyedrop solution.

To use the eyedrops, follow these instructions:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  2. Check the dropper tip to make sure that it is not chipped or cracked.
  3. Avoid touching the dropper tip against your eye or anything else; eyedrops and dropper must be kept clean.
  4. While tilting your head back, pull down the lower lid of your eye with your index finger to form a pocket.
  5. Hold the dropper (tip down) with the other hand, as close to the eye as possible without touching it.
  6. Brace the remaining fingers of that hand against your face.
  7. While looking up, gently squeeze the dropper so that a single drop falls into the pocket made by the lower eyelid. Remove your index finger from the lower eyelid.
  8. Close your eye for 2 to 3 minutes and tip your head down as though looking at the floor. Try not to blink or squeeze your eyelids.
  9. Place a finger on the tear duct and apply gentle pressure.
  10. Wipe any excess liquid from your face with a tissue.
  11. If you are to use more than one drop in the same eye, wait at least 5 minutes before instilling the next drop.
  12. Replace and tighten the cap on the dropper bottle. Do not wipe or rinse the dropper tip.
  13. Wash your hands to remove any medication.

To use the eye ointment, follow these instructions:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
  2. Use a mirror or have someone else apply the ointment.
  3. Avoid touching the tip of the tube against your eye or anything else. The ointment must be kept clean.
  4. Tilt your head forward slightly.
  5. Holding the tube between your thumb and index finger, place the tube as near as possible to your eyelid without touching it.
  6. Brace the remaining fingers of that hand against your cheek or nose.
  7. With the index finger of your other hand, pull the lower lid of your eye down to form a pocket.
  8. Place a small amount of ointment into the pocket made by the lower lid and the eye. A 1/2-inch (1.25-centimeter) strip of ointment usually is enough unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
  9. Gently close your eyes and keep them closed for 1 to 2 minutes to allow the medication to be absorbed.
  10. Replace and tighten the cap right away.
  11. Wipe off any excess ointment from your eyelids and lashes with a clean tissue. Wash your hands again.

What SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS should I follow?

Before using dexamethasone eyedrops or eye ointment,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to dexamethasone, sulfites, or any other drugs.
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking, including vitamins.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had glaucoma or diabetes.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while using dexamethasone, call your doctor immediately. Talk to your doctor about stopping to breast-feed if you use dexamethasone eye drops.
  • tell your doctor if you wear soft contact lenses. If the brand of dexamethasone you are using contains benzalkonium chloride, wait at least 15 minutes after using the medicine to put in soft contact lenses.

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

Apply the missed drops or ointment 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 a double dose to make up for a missed one.

What SIDE EFFECTS can this medicine cause?

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

  • changes in vision, such as blurring and seeing halos around lights
  • pressure and pain in the eye
  • drooping of the eyelid

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).

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 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 eye irritation after you finish the dexamethasone, 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 branded product is no longer on the market. Generic alternatives may be available.


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: September 15, 2017.