Why is this medication prescribed?
Ophthalmic erythromycin is used to treat bacterial infections of the eye. This medication is also used to prevent bacterial infections of the eye in newborn babies. Erythromycin is in a class of medications called macrolide antibiotics. It works by killing bacteria that cause infections.
How should this medicine be used?
Ophthalmic erythromycin comes as an ointment to apply to the eyes. It is usually applied up to six times a day for eye infections. Ophthalmic erythromycin is usually applied one time in the hospital soon after delivery to prevent eye infections in newborn babies. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Use erythromycin eye ointment 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 or do not go away, or if you develop other problems with your eyes during your treatment.
To use the eye ointment, follow these steps:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Use a mirror or have someone else apply the ointment.
- Avoid touching the tip of the tube against your eye or anything else. The ointment must be kept clean.
- Tilt your head forward slightly.
- Holding the tube between your thumb and index finger, place the tube as near as possible to your eyelid without touching it.
- Brace the remaining fingers of that hand against your cheek or nose.
- With the index finger of your other hand, pull the lower lid of your eye down to form a pocket.
- Place a small amount of ointment into the pocket made by the lower lid and the eye. A 1-centimeter (about 1/2-inch) strip of ointment usually is enough unless otherwise directed by your doctor.
- Look downward, then gently close your eyes and keep them closed for 1 to 2 minutes to allow the medication to be absorbed.
- Replace and tighten the cap right away.
- Wipe off any excess ointment from your eyelids and lashes with a clean tissue. Do not rub your eyes, even if your vision is blurry. Wash your hands again.
Use ophthalmic erythromycin until you finish the prescription, even if you feel better. If you stop using ophthalmic erythromycin too soon, your infection may not be completely cured and the bacteria may become resistant to antibiotics.
Other uses for this medicine
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before using erythromycin eye ointment,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to erythromycin, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in erythromycin eye ointment. 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. Be sure to mention any other eye medications.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while using erythromycin eye ointment, call your doctor.
- you should know that your vision may be blurry for a short amount of time after using the eye ointment. Wait until you can see normally before you drive or do other activities that require good vision.
- tell your doctor if you wear soft contact lenses. You should not wear contact lenses if you have an eye 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 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 ointment to make up for a missed dose.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Erythromycin eye ointment may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- redness, itching, stinging, or burning of the eye
Erythromycin eye ointment 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 freeze erythromycin eye ointment.
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.
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
In case of emergency/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.
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.
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.
- Ilotycin® Opthalmic¶
- Romycin® Ophthalmic
¶ This branded product is no longer on the market. Generic alternatives may be available.