Antibiotic eye drops


Eye drops are oily or watery medicines that are administered to the eye and achieve their effect there. There are many different types of eye drops, the most important of which are antibiotic eye drops, eye drops that reduce the pressure of the eyes and drops that help against dryness or irritation of the eyes. Eye drops containing antibiotics are mainly prescribed for infectious diseases of the eye, such as conjunctivitis, or as a prophylaxis of infections. In certain cases, antibiotic-containing eye drops can also be given in combination with cortisone.


Depending on the preparation, the antibiotic-containing eye drops act by inhibiting the bacterial cell wall, the proteins formed by the bacteria, or by inhibition on a bacterial, genetic level. Important antibiotics which can be given in the form of eye drops include ciprofloxacin, erythromycin, tetracycline or doxycycline, gentamycin, kanamycin and neomycin, as well as chloramphenicol. Besides the administration form as eye drops, there are also eye ointments with antibiotics. They remain in the eye for longer, so that the active ingredient can attack specifically at the site of the infection. However, ointments in the eye often cause blurred vision.

Active ingredients

The following eye drops / ointments are used: Aminoclycosides (gentamycin, kanamycin, neomycon, tobramycin: effective against staphylococci, enterobacteriaceae but not against chlamydia and pneumococci). These eye drops should be applied 3-6 times a day in each eye. Gentamycin (Refobacin®) is also available as an ointment.

Another group of eye drops containing antibiotics are the gyrase inhibitors (ciprofloxacin and ofloxacin), which have a very broad spectrum of activity and are also effective against chlamydia. Other broad spectrum antibiotics would be: Chloramphenicol (also as ointment), chlortetracycline (also as ointment), ciprofloxacin, erythromycin (also as ointment), fusidic acid, lomefloxacin, levofloxacin, oxytetracycline (also as ointment). The eye drops should all be taken between 2 and 5 times a day.

Floxal® eye drops contain the antibiotic ofloxacin. It can be used in case of an infection of the eye with bacteria, which means that inflammations of the cornea, conjunctiva, eyelid margin and tear sac can be effectively treated with the eye drops. It is important to note that such antibiotic-containing eye drops can only develop their full effect if there is actually a bacterial infection.

Otherwise, although they also relieve the symptoms through moisture, they cannot combat the pathogens themselves. Floxal® eye drops should generally be applied to the eye three to four times a day. A total treatment period of two weeks should not be exceeded.

Side effects may occur, especially in the case of allergies and hypersensitivity to the active ingredients contained in Floxal® eye drops. This can lead to itching and burning of the eye as well as reddening of the conjunctiva. Floxal® Eye Drops can also be used to treat barley grain.

This is the bacterial inflammation of a gland on the eyelid. Usually the eyelid swells painfully at the affected area and is also reddened. Antibiotic eye drops containing antibiotics are sometimes also used in combination with cortisone.

In this way, the antibiotic agents can fight the pathogen (bacteria), while cortisone primarily works on the body’s immune response, thus reducing the irritation of the eye. Typically, cortisone in eye drops is only used for non-infectious inflammation, as cortisone inhibits the body’s immune cells in their work. Should one nevertheless wish to take cortisone for an infectious cause of eye irritation, it is only recommended in combination with a preparation containing antibiotics.

Otherwise the immune reaction is downregulated and the bacteria can continue to drive the inflammation of the eye. Thus the symptoms usually persist for a longer period of time. Eye drops with cortisone are also mostly used as combination preparations for the therapeutic lowering of intraocular pressure, for glaucoma or for infections.

Cortisone has been shown to be particularly successful in the treatment of allergic conjunctivitis. Possible side effects of eye drops containing cortisone can be secondary infections, corneal damage and an increase in intraocular pressure. Therefore, these eye drops should only be taken for a limited period of time.

In the case of conjunctivitis caused by bacteria or viruses, eye drops containing cortisone alone will not usually help. Eye drops containing antibiotics should not be used for every irritation or inflammation of the eye. Conjunctivitis should always be clarified by a doctor, as there can always be a bacterial cause for the inflammation.

This would then require a therapy with antibiotic-containing eye drops, because antibiotic-containing eye drops only make sense if the inflammation is caused by a bacterial infection, since antibiotics can only treat bacteria and no other pathogens. These antibiotic-containing eye drops are only available on prescription and are issued by the doctor on a prescription. Some eye drops containing antibiotics are also available online without a prescription, but an ophthalmologist should still assess the condition of the eyes before antibiotic-containing eye drops are used.

However, there are also over-the-counter eye drops that do not contain antibiotics, but can also lead to an improvement in symptoms. So-called film formers such as Lacrimal® or Berberil® moisten the eyes by replacing the missing tear fluid. This can provide good relief for symptoms such as burning or itching eyes.

Since film formers are free of preservatives, they can be taken over a longer period of time without any problems. As with many foods, eye drops are often mixed with preservatives as they have a longer shelf life. However, these substances can quickly destroy the effect of the eye drops as they dry out the eyes and thus intensify the irritation.

Therefore, many of the antibiotic-containing eye drops are now produced without preservatives. In addition, in contrast to the past, considerably less harmful preservatives are used today, so that even antibiotic-containing eye drops with preservatives do not dry out the eyes as much. Eye drops containing antibiotics are used for bacterial infections of the eye.

These include conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva) and keratitis (inflammation of the cornea). It is important to apply the preparations regularly and closely. As eye ointments usually remain in the eye for a longer period of time, they cause a stronger visual impairment.

For this reason it is advisable to take eye drops during the day and eye ointments at night. Most antibiotics cannot penetrate an intact cornea, which leads to a reduced effect. If it is an inflammation of the cornea, this is possible with restrictions.

For some inflammations affecting the anterior chamber of the eye, antibiotic treatment must be administered by injection with a syringe. Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the conjunctiva that can affect both adults and children. Typical causes of conjunctivitis can be bacteria, viruses, environmental irritants such as dust, contact lenses or dry eyes and allergies.

If bacteria or viruses are the cause of conjunctivitis, it is usually highly contagious and should be treated urgently. Important bacterial pathogens can be staphylococci, streptococci and pneumococci. In newborns, the triggers for conjunctivitis are often gonococci (gonorrhoea) or chlamydia, which are transmitted during birth from infected mothers to the baby via the birth canal.

After a few days, these then cause severe conjunctivitis, which if left untreated can lead to blindness. Besides bacteria, viruses in particular can cause highly contagious conjunctivitis. Adenoviruses are the trigger of the so-called keratoconjunctivitis epidemica, a conjunctivitis which is very feared because of its high infectiousness.

After a short time, both eyes are affected by the conjunctivitis and the viruses can be transmitted to other people in a flash by shaking hands or using the same towels. Typical symptoms of conjunctivitis are reddened, burning eyes that water and itch and are heavily swollen and sticky, especially in the morning. At the edges of the eyelids there is often secreted purulent, watery or mucous secretion.

In rare cases there is also pain and increased sensitivity to light. Since there are many different causes for conjunctivitis and these require different therapies and hygiene measures, every conjunctivitis should be examined and clarified by a doctor. If bacteria are responsible for conjunctivitis, the doctor will prescribe antibiotic-containing eye drops or eye ointments, which provide relief after only a few days.

You can find more information on this topic here: Home remedy for conjunctivitisThe barleycorn represents an acute bacterial inflammation of the eyelid, more precisely of the sebaceous and sweat glands that are found on the eyelid. Like conjunctivitis, barleycorn is a common clinical picture and is usually caused by skin germs such as staphylococci and in rare cases by streptococci. A typical symptom of a barleycorn is the appearance of a painful, reddened and pressure-sensitive nodule, which can spontaneously discharge with pus.

Once the node has been emptied, the barleycorn usually heals without complications. Therapy is therefore necessary in very few cases. However, if the infection has spread to the orbit (a so-called orbital aphlegmon), antibiotic therapy with tablets or infusions, as well as an exposure of the inflamed area (incision) is necessary. To prevent such complications from the outset, antibiotic-containing eye drops containing gentamycin can be prescribed prophylactically.