Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jan 2, 2022.
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
- Isopto Fenicol
- Minims Chloramphenicol 0.5%
- Pentamycetin Ophthalmic Solution 0.25%
- Pentamycetin Ophthalmic Solution 0.5%
Chemical Class: Chloramphenicol (class)
Uses for chloramphenicol
Chloramphenicol belongs to the family of medicines called antibiotics. Chloramphenicol ophthalmic preparations are used to treat infections of the eye. Chloramphenicol may be given alone or with other medicines that are taken by mouth for eye infections.
Chloramphenicol is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before using chloramphenicol
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For chloramphenicol, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to chloramphenicol or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Studies on chloramphenicol have been done only in adult patients, and there is no specific information comparing use of chloramphenicol in children with use in other age groups.
Many medicines have not been studied specifically in older people. Therefore, it may not be known whether they work exactly the same way they do in younger adults or if they cause different side effects or problems in older people. There is no specific information comparing use of chloramphenicol in the elderly with use in other age groups.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking chloramphenicol, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using chloramphenicol with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Cholera Vaccine, Live
Using chloramphenicol with any of the following medicines may cause an increased risk of certain side effects, but using both drugs may be the best treatment for you. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
- Tetanus Toxoid
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Proper use of chloramphenicol
For patients using the eye drop form of chloramphenicol:
- Although the bottle may not be full, it contains exactly the amount of medicine your doctor ordered.
- To use:
- First, wash your hands. Tilt the head back and, pressing your finger gently on the skin just beneath the lower eyelid, pull the lower eyelid away from the eye to make a space. Drop the medicine into this space. Let go of the eyelid and gently close the eyes. Do not blink. Keep the eyes closed and apply pressure to the inner corner of the eye with your finger for 1 or 2 minutes to allow the medicine to come into contact with the infection.
- If you think you did not get the drop of medicine into your eye properly, use another drop.
- To keep the medicine as germ-free as possible, do not touch the applicator tip or dropper to any surface (including the eye). Also, keep the container tightly closed.
To use the eye ointment form of chloramphenicol:
- First, wash your hands. Tilt the head back and, pressing your finger gently on the skin just beneath the lower eyelid, pull the lower eyelid away from the eye to make a space. Squeeze a thin strip of ointment into this space. A 1-cm (approximately 1/3-inch) strip of ointment is usually enough, unless you have been told by your doctor to use a different amount. Let go of the eyelid and gently close the eyes. Keep the eyes closed for 1 or 2 minutes to allow the medicine to come into contact with the infection.
- To keep the medicine as germ-free as possible, do not touch the applicator tip to any surface (including the eye). After using chloramphenicol eye ointment, wipe the tip of the ointment tube with a clean tissue and keep the tube tightly closed.
To help clear up your infection completely, keep using chloramphenicol for the full time of treatment, even if your symptoms begin to clear up after a few days. If you stop using chloramphenicol too soon, your symptoms may return. Do not miss any doses.
The dose of chloramphenicol will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of chloramphenicol. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For eye infection:
- For ophthalmic ointment dosage form:
- Adults and children—Use every three hours.
- For ophthalmic solution (eye drops) dosage form:
- Adults and children—One drop every one to four hours.
- For ophthalmic ointment dosage form:
If you miss a dose of chloramphenicol, apply it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Precautions while using chloramphenicol
If your symptoms do not improve within a few days, or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
Chloramphenicol side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
Rare- may also occur weeks or months after you stop using chloramphenicol
- Pale skin
- sore throat and fever
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual tiredness or weakness
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- Itching, redness, skin rash, swelling, or other sign of irritation not present before use of chloramphenicol
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- Burning or stinging
After application, eye ointments may be expected to cause your vision to blur for a few minutes.
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
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