Ganciclovir eye gel (Virgan)

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It is important to use ganciclovir five times a day until your eye feels better, and then to continue using it three times a day for a further seven days.

If your vision becomes blurred after using it, do not drive until you can see clearly again.

If you normally wear contact lenses, wear glasses instead while you are using ganciclovir.

Type of medicineAn antiviral eye gel
Used forEye infections caused by herpes simplex virus
Also calledVirgan®
Available asEye drops (in a gel form)

Ganciclovir is an antiviral eye gel which is used to treat eye infections caused by the herpes simplex virus.

Many people become infected with the herpes simplex virus, often during childhood. Following the first (or primary) infection, the virus stays with you for life. It usually stays inactive in the root of a nerve in your face, although the virus may activate and multiply from time to time. In most people, the virus travels down a branch of the nerve to the mouth to cause a cold sore. In some people, however, the virus travels down a branch of the nerve to the eye. When this happens, it causes an episode of active eye infection. Ganciclovir is suitable for treating this type of eye infection in adults.

To make sure this is the right treatment for you, before you start using ganciclovir it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you normally wear contact lenses.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine or to another eye product.
  • If you are taking any medicines, or using any other eye drops/ointment. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.

Before you start this treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from the pack. The manufacturer's leaflet will give you more information about ganciclovir and a full list of side-effects which you may experience from using the gel. If your eyes have an obvious discharge or 'crust', it can help if you bathe them with cool clean water before using the gel.

  1. First wash your hands.
  2. Remove the cap from the tube.
  3. Pull the lower lid of your eye downwards to form a pocket.
  4. Hold the gel upside down near to your eye. Try not to touch your eye with the end of the tube as you do this.
  5. Apply a little pressure to allow a small drop to form on the end of the tube. Let this 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. Replace the cap on the tube. Make sure that you do not touch the dropper on any surface (including your eye or fingers).
  • Use ganciclovir exactly as your doctor tells you to. It is likely your doctor will advise you to use the drops five times a day until your eye is better, and then to continue to use them three times a day for a further seven days. Space out the doses evenly during the hours you are awake.
  • When you first put the eye drops into your eye, they may cause blurred vision. This should quickly clear, but make sure you can see clearly before you drive or use machines or tools.
  • If you are using any other eye drops or eye ointments, leave at least five minutes between applying each preparation. It is likely you will be advised to use ganciclovir last.
  • Take care to avoid spreading the infection from one eye to the other, and to other members of your family. Washing your hands regularly (particularly after touching your eyes), and not sharing towels or pillows will help to prevent the infection from spreading.
  • Try not to miss any doses. If you forget to use the gel on time, put a drop in as soon as you remember.
  • Eye infections can cause your eyes to become more sensitive to sunlight than usual. Wearing sunglasses may help to prevent this.
  • The length of your treatment may last up to three weeks, but if your symptoms do not start to improve within a few days of using the drops, you should arrange to see your doctor for advice as soon as possible.
  • Do not wear contact lenses while you are using ganciclovir. Wait for 24 hours after your last dose before using your lenses again.
  • Ganciclovir eye gel is for you. Never share it with others, even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the ones associated with ganciclovir eye gel. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your gel. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Ganciclovir eye gel side-effects
What can I do if I experience this?
Mild stinging or irritationThis can happen after applying the gel. It should quickly pass
Blurred visionMake sure you can see clearly before you drive or use tools or machines

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to this eye preparation, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct light and heat.
  • Throw away the container after you have finished the course of treatment, even if there is some gel left. Never keep opened tubes to use later.

Ganciclovir eye gel is for use in your eyes only. If someone swallows some of it, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

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

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

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, Virgan®; Spectrum Thea Pharmaceuticals Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated November 2009.
  • British National Formulary; 66th Edition (September 2013) 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:
Dr John Cox
Document ID:
3775 (v23)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
The Information Standard - certified member

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