Azithromycin eye drops (Azyter)

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Azithromycin drops are used to treat bacterial eye infections.

Use the drops morning and evening for three days. Try to not miss any doses.

Your vision may become slightly blurred for a short while after using the drops. If so, do not drive or use tools or machines until you can see clearly again.

Type of medicineMacrolide antibacterial eye drops
Used forEye infections
Also calledAzyter®
Available asSingle-use eye drops

Azithromycin eye drops are used to treat bacterial conjunctivitis. Azithromycin helps to kill the bacteria which are causing the infection. Eye infections are a common cause of conjunctivitis. In conjunctivitis, your eye becomes inflamed, feels gritty, and may water more than usual. The white of your eye may look red, and your eyelids can become swollen and stuck together with a discharge when you wake up in the morning. Azithromycin is used to treat eye infections which produce a lot of pus, and also those caused by bacteria called Chlamydia trachomatis.

Azithromycin eye drops can be prescribed for adults and children of all ages.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start using azithromycin eye drops it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to an antibiotic, or to any eye drops.
  • If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  1. Wash your hands well before you use the drops.
  2. Open one of the single-dose containers.
  3. Tilt your head back a little and pull the lower lid of your eye downwards to form a pocket.
  4. Hold the container upside down near to your eye. Try not to touch your eye as you do this.
  5. Apply enough pressure to release one drop into your eye.
  6. Close your eye for a minute or two, and press gently on the side of your nose where the corner of your eye meets your nose. This helps to stop the drop from draining away and keeps it in your eye.
  7. Repeat the process in your other eye if you have been told to use the drops in both eyes. (There is sufficient liquid in one container to treat both eyes at the same time.)
  8. Throw away the container, even if there is some liquid left in it. Do not store opened containers to use later.
  • Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about using the drops and a full list of the side-effects which you may experience.
  • If your eyes have an obvious discharge or 'crust', it can help if you bathe them with cool clean water before using azithromycin.
  • Use the drops regularly, exactly as your doctor tells you to. You should use the drops twice daily (morning and evening) for three days. You will find six single-use containers in the pack, which is sufficient to complete the course.
  • If your symptoms do not improve after using the drops, speak again with your doctor.
  • When you first put the drops into your eye, they may cause blurred vision. This should quickly clear, but make sure you can see clearly again before you drive or use machines or tools.
  • Take care to avoid spreading the infection from one eye to the other, and to other members of the family. Washing your hands regularly (particularly after touching your eyes), and not sharing towels or pillows will help to prevent the infection from spreading.
  • Eye infections can cause your eyes to become more sensitive to sunlight than usual. Wearing sunglasses may help to prevent this.
  • If you are using any other eye drops, leave at least five minutes between applying each preparation. This is to prevent more liquid going into your eye than it can handle. Otherwise the drops will overflow from your eye and not have the intended effect.
  • Even when your eye appears normal again, there may still be some bacteria present. It is important to complete the full three-day course of drops. This will help to make sure that all the bacteria have been killed.
  • Do not wear contact lenses until your symptoms have completely gone. Wait for at least 24 hours after the last dose of eye drops before using your lenses again.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with azithromycin eye drops. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with the drops. Speak with your doctor if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Very common azithromycin eye drop side-effects (these affect more than 1 in 10 people)
What can I do if I experience this?
Eye itching, burning or stingingThis occurs when putting the drops in, but does not usually last for long
Common azithromycin eye drop side-effects (these affect less than 1 in 10 people)What can I do if I experience this?
Blurred visionIf this happens, do not drive or use tools or machines until you can see clearly again
A feeling of stickiness or that something is in your eyeThis will pass

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the drops, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Keep unopened units in the sachet provided and store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
  • Throw away the single-use container after each dose, even if there is some liquid left.

The drops are for use in the eyes only. If someone swallows some, contact the accident and emergency department of your local hospital for advice.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are using.

If you buy any medicines check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with your other medicines.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • Manufacturer's PIL, Azyter®; Spectrum Thea Pharmaceuticals Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated August 2013.
  • British National Formulary; 67th Edition (March 2014) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Prof Cathy Jackson
Document ID:
28840 (v1)
Last Checked:
17/04/2014
Next Review:
16/04/2017
The Information Standard - certified member

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