Medically reviewed on Nov 17, 2018
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Antiviral
Pharmacologic Class: Viral DNA Polymerase Inhibitor
Chemical Class: Guanosine Nucleoside Analog
Uses For ganciclovir
Ganciclovir ophthalmic (eye) gel is used to treat acute herpetic keratitis (dendritic ulcers). Herpetic keratitis is an eye infection (swelling of the front part of the eye) caused by herpes simplex virus.
Ganciclovir is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before Using ganciclovir
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 ganciclovir, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to ganciclovir 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.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated pediatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of ganciclovir ophthalmic in children. However, safety and efficacy have not been established in children younger than 2 years of age.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of ganciclovir ophthalmic in the elderly.
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. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.
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 ganciclovir
Your doctor will tell you how much of ganciclovir to use and how often. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to. Ganciclovir is not for long-term use.
To use the eye drops:
- First, wash your hands. Tilt your 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 be absorbed by the eye.
- If you think you did not get the drop of medicine into your eye properly, use another drop.
- Immediately after using the eye drops, wash your hands to remove any medicine that may be on them.
- To keep the medicine as germ-free as possible, do not touch the dropper to any surface (including the eye). Always keep the container tightly closed.
The dose of ganciclovir 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 ganciclovir. 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 ophthalmic dosage form (eye drops):
- For treatment of acute herpetic keratitis:
- Adults and children 2 years of age and older—Put one drop in the affected eye five times a day, (every three hours) until the symptoms improve. Then, one drop three times a day for 7 days.
- Children younger than 2 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For treatment of acute herpetic keratitis:
If you miss a dose of ganciclovir, 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.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Precautions While Using ganciclovir
Your eye doctor will want to examine your eye(s) at regular visits to make sure the medicine is working properly and is not causing unwanted effects.
Do not wear contact lenses while you are using ganciclovir to avoid further eye irritation.
If you develop pain, or symptoms do not improve within a few days or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
Ganciclovir 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:
- Blurred vision
- red, sore eyes
- Painful irritation of the clear front part of the eye
- redness of the white part of eyes or inside of the eyelids
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.
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.
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- Drug class: ophthalmic anti-infectives