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Tetracaine (Ophthalmic)


(TET ra kane)

Index Terms

  • Amethocaine Hydrochloride
  • Tetracaine HCl
  • Tetracaine Hydrochloride

Dosage Forms

Excipient information presented when available (limited, particularly for generics); consult specific product labeling. [DSC] = Discontinued product

Solution, Ophthalmic, as hydrochloride:

Altacaine: 0.5% (1 ea, 15 mL, 30 mL)

Tetcaine: 0.5% (15 mL) [contains chlorobutanol (chlorobutol), edetate disodium]

TetraVisc: 0.5% (1 ea, 5 mL) [contains benzalkonium chloride]

TetraVisc Forte: 0.5% (1 ea, 5 mL) [contains benzalkonium chloride, edetate disodium]

Generic: 0.5% (1 mL, 2 mL [DSC], 4 mL, 15 mL)

Brand Names: U.S.

  • Altacaine
  • Tetcaine
  • TetraVisc
  • TetraVisc Forte

Pharmacologic Category

  • Local Anesthetic


Ester local anesthetic blocks both the initiation and conduction of nerve impulses by decreasing the neuronal membrane's permeability to sodium, potassium, and other ions, which results in inhibition of depolarization with resultant blockade of conduction


Hepatic; detoxified by plasma esterases to aminobenzoic acid



Onset of Action

Anesthetic: Within 30 seconds

Duration of Action

10 to 20 minutes

Use: Labeled Indications

Ophthalmic anesthesia: Local anesthesia for various ophthalmic procedures requiring rapid, short-acting topical anesthesia


There are no contraindications listed in the manufacturer's labeling.

Dosing: Adult

Ophthalmic anesthesia: Ophthalmic: Instill 1 drop into affected eye(s) as needed

Dosing: Geriatric

Refer to adult dosing.

Dosing: Renal Impairment

There are no dosage adjustments provided in the manufacturer's labeling.

Dosing: Hepatic Impairment

There are no dosage adjustments provided in the manufacturer's labeling.


For topical ophthalmic use only. Open using standard aseptic technique; dispenser is allowed to fall upon a sterile surface. Instruct to avoid touching eye for 10 to 20 minutes following administration. Do not use if solution contains crystals or is cloudy or discolored.


Store at room temperature of 15°C to 30°C (59°F to 86°F). Protect from light; keep container closed tightly.

Drug Interactions

There are no known significant interactions.

Adverse Reactions

Frequency not defined: Ophthalmic: Chemosis, conjunctival erythema (transient), lacrimation, photophobia, transient burning or stinging in the eyes

<1% (Limited to important or life-threatening): Hypersensitivity reaction (corneal)


Concerns related to adverse effects:

• Hypersensitivity reactions: Immediate type allergic corneal reactions, characterized by epithelial keratitis/filament formation, necrotic epithelium sloughing, stromal edema, descemetitis, and iritis, have been reported rarely.

Special populations:

• Contact lens wearers: Some formulations may contain benzalkonium chloride which may be adsorbed by soft contact lenses; remove contacts prior to administration and wait 15 minutes before reinserting.

Other warnings/precautions:

• For ophthalmic use only. May delay wound healing. Prolonged use is not recommended. The anesthetized eye should be protected from irritation, foreign bodies, and rubbing to prevent inadvertent damage.

Pregnancy Risk Factor


Pregnancy Considerations

Animal reproduction studies have not been conducted.

Patient Education

• Discuss specific use of drug and side effects with patient as it relates to treatment. (HCAHPS: During this hospital stay, were you given any medicine that you had not taken before? Before giving you any new medicine, how often did hospital staff tell you what the medicine was for? How often did hospital staff describe possible side effects in a way you could understand?)

• Patient may experience burning, stinging, or redness. Have patient report immediately to prescriber vision changes, eye pain, or severe eye irritation (HCAHPS).

• Educate patient about signs of a significant reaction (eg, wheezing; chest tightness; fever; itching; bad cough; blue skin color; seizures; or swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat). Note: This is not a comprehensive list of all side effects. Patient should consult prescriber for additional questions.

Intended Use and Disclaimer: Should not be printed and given to patients. This information is intended to serve as a concise initial reference for health care professionals to use when discussing medications with a patient. You must ultimately rely on your own discretion, experience, and judgment in diagnosing, treating, and advising patients.