Safety of tobramycin & dexamethasone eye drops

Written by travis sharpe
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Safety of tobramycin & dexamethasone eye drops
Eye drops (medicine dropper image by jimcox40 from

Tobramycin eye drops are antibiotic eye drops used to treat or prevent bacterial eye infections. Dexamethasone eye drops are corticosteroid eye drops used to treat inflammation of the eye. Tobradex is a combination eye drop that contains both tobramycin and dexamethasone. These medications work well, but they can create side effects in sensitive individuals.

Tobramycin Eye Drops

According to, the only contraindication for the use of tobramycin eye drops is if a person is allergic to tobramycin. Using tobramycin eye drops in an individual who carries an allergy to tobramycin can cause the eyelids to swell and itch. It can also cause the eyeball to become red and itchy.

Dexamethasone Eye Drops

Dexamethasone eye drops can cure inflammation of the eyeball. However, because they are a corticosteroid eye drop, they carry the potential for more serious side effects. Dexamethasone eye drops should not be used in patients who are allergic to dexamethasone. In addition, prolonged use of dexamethasone eye drops can result in the development of cataracts and an increase in eye pressure that could lead to glaucoma.


Tobradex eye drops are commonly used in eye care. They carry the antibiotic properties of tobramycin and the anti-inflammatory properties of dexamethasone. Individuals using tobradex eye drops must be aware of any allergies they may have to either tobramycin or dexamethasone, as they will be exposed to both. The dexamethasone portion of Tobradex still carries the risk of developing cataracts and glaucoma from prolonged use.

Herpetic Eye Infections

Herpes simplex virus type one is the virus that causes cold sores. Nearly all human beings carry this virus. Our immune systems keep this virus from causing problems most of the time. However, dexamethasone eye drops temporarily weaken the eye's immune system. If a person has an active herpetic eye infection or a history of recurrent herpetic eye infections, he should not use dexamethasone eye drops. Doing so could allow the virus to infect the eye.

General Information

If a person with no allergies to tobramycin or dexamethasone uses the eye drops only as directed by the optometrist or ophthalmologist, the risk of developing any side effects is extremely low. Occasionally a person's eye will develop cataracts and/or glaucoma more quickly than usual from dexamethasone eye drops, but that is rare.

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