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TETRACYCLINES (Ophthalmic)*†

Some commonly used brand names are:

  • May be available in other countries.
This information applies to the following medicines:
1. Chlortetracycline (klor-te-tra-SYE-kleen)*
2. Tetracycline (te-tra-SYE-kleen)*
* Not commercially available in the U.S.
† Not commercially available in Canada

*† Not commercially available in the U.S. and Canada.


  • Antibacterial, ophthalmic—Chlortetracycline; Tetracycline


Tetracyclines belong to the family of medicines called antibiotics. Tetracycline ophthalmic preparations are used to treat infections of the eye. They may also be used along with other medicines that are taken by mouth for infections of the eye.

Tetracyclines are available only with your doctor's prescription, in the following dosage forms:

  • Ophthalmic
  • Chlortetracycline
    • Ophthalmic ointment
  • Tetracycline
    • Ophthalmic ointment

Before Using This Medicine

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of using the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For tetracycline ophthalmic preparations, the following should be considered:

Allergies—Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to tetracycline or chlortetracycline or to any related antibiotics, such as demeclocycline (e.g., Declomycin), doxycycline (e.g., Vibramycin), methacycline (e.g., Rondomycin), minocycline (e.g., Minocin), or oxytetracycline (e.g., Terramycin). Also tell your health care professional if you are allergic to any other substances, such as preservatives.

Pregnancy—Tetracycline ophthalmic preparations have not been shown to cause birth defects or other problems in humans.

Breast-feeding—Tetracycline ophthalmic preparations have not been reported to cause problems in nursing babies.

Children—Although there is no specific information comparing use of ophthalmic tetracyclines in children with use in other age groups, they are not expected to cause different side effects or problems in children than they do in adults.

Older adults—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 tetracyclines in the elderly with use in other age groups.

Other 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. Tell your health care professional if you are using any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine that is to be used in the eye.

Proper Use of This Medicine

For patients using the eye ointment form of tetracyclines:

  • To use:
    • First, wash your hands. Then pull the lower eyelid away from the eye to form a pouch. Squeeze a thin strip of ointment into the pouch. A 1-cm (approximately 1/3-inch) strip of ointment is usually enough unless otherwise directed by your doctor. Gently close the eyes and keep them 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 tetracyclines 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 this medicine for the full time of treatment , even if your symptoms have disappeared. Do not miss any doses .

Dosing—The dose of ophthalmic tetracyclines 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 ophthalmic tetracyclines. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The number of doses you use each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you use the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using ophthalmic tetracyclines .

  • For eye infections:
    • For ophthalmic ointment dosage forms:
      • Adults and children—Use every two to four hours.

Missed dose—If you miss a dose of this medicine, apply it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next application, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule.

Storage—To store this medicine:

  • Keep out of the reach of children.
  • Store away from heat and direct light.
  • Keep the medicine from freezing.
  • Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed. Be sure that any discarded medicine is out of the reach of children.

Precautions While Using This Medicine

After application, this medicine usually causes your vision to blur for a few minutes.

If your symptoms do not improve within a few days, or if they become worse, check with your doctor.

Side Effects of This Medicine

There have not been any common or important side effects reported with this medicine. However, if you notice any unusual effects, check with your doctor.

Revised: 06/15/1999

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.