Clinical author's note Michael Stewart 18/01/2019: Zovirax® eye ointment was discontinued in the UK in December 2018. Supplies are expected to run out by July 2019. At the time of review there are no branded or generic eye products containing aciclovir available in the UK. Products may still be available in other countries. This medicine leaflet is based on medical information available in the UK at the time of writing and is left here for reference purposes only. Please also refer to the manufacturer's information supplied with your medicine.
It is important to use this eye ointment five times a day and to continue using it for at least three days after your eye gets better.
Eye ointments can cause blurred vision when first put in. Do not drive and do not use tools or machines until your vision is clear again.
If you normally wear contact lenses, use glasses instead while you are using this eye ointment.
About aciclovir eye ointment
|Type of medicine||An antiviral eye ointment|
|Used for||The treatment of viral eye infections|
|Also called||Acyclovir (in US); Zovirax®|
|Available as||Eye ointment|
Aciclovir eye ointment is used to treat eye infections caused by the herpes simplex virus. It works by interfering with the growth of the virus and this stops the infection.
Before using aciclovir eye ointment
To make sure that this is the right treatment for you, before you start using aciclovir it is important that your doctor or pharmacist knows:
- If you normally wear contact lenses.
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to an eye product, or to any medicine.
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Although aciclovir is not known to be harmful to babies, you should still tell your doctor if you are expecting or breastfeeding a baby.
How to use aciclovir eye ointment
- Wash your hands before you use the ointment.
- Remove the cap from the tube.
- Pull the lower lid of your eye downwards to form a pocket.
- Hold the tube upside down near to your eye.
- Squeeze the tube to release a thin line of ointment along the inside of your lower eye lid. Try not to touch your eye with the end of the tube as you do this.
- Close your eye for about 30 seconds and then blink a few times to spread the ointment around the inside of your eye.
- Repeat the process in your other eye if you have been told to use it in both eyes.
- When you have finished, remember to replace the cap on the tube to prevent the ointment from becoming contaminated.
Getting the most from your treatment
- Before you start treating your eyes, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet supplied with the product. It will give you more information about using aciclovir and will provide you with a full list of any 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 you use the ointment.
- Use aciclovir eye ointment exactly as your doctor tells you to. Apply it five times a day into the affected eye. Space out the doses evenly during the day.
- Try not to miss any doses but if you do forget, just use the ointment as soon as you remember. Do not 'double up' the amount of ointment you use to make up for forgetting.
- When you first put the ointment into your eye, it can blur your vision. This should quickly clear. Make sure you can see clearly before you drive and before you use machines or tools.
- If you are using any other eye drops or eye ointments, leave at least five minutes between applying each preparation. You should use eye ointments like aciclovir 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.
- Eye infections can cause your eyes to become more sensitive to sunlight than usual. Wearing sunglasses can help ease this.
- Continue to use the ointment five times a day until your symptoms have completely gone, and then for at least another three days afterwards. This will make sure that all the virus infecting your eye is killed and will prevent your symptoms from returning.
- If your symptoms do not improve, and especially if they become worse, you should arrange to see your doctor for advice as soon as possible.
- If you normally wear contact lenses, you should wear glasses until your symptoms have completely gone. It is recommended that you wait at least 24 hours after you last use the ointment before you put your lenses in again.
Can aciclovir eye ointment cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, eye ointments can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains the most common ones associated with aciclovir eye ointment. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your ointment. Unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to a new medicine but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Common aciclovir eye ointment side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Irritation, swollen or runny eyes||If troublesome, speak with your doctor|
|Mild stinging||This can happen straight after applying the ointment. It should pass quickly|
|Blurred vision||If this happens, make sure you can see clearly before you drive and before you use machines or tools|
If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the eye ointment, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store aciclovir eye ointment
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct light and heat.
- Do not keep the tube of eye ointment after you have finished the course of treatment, even if there is some left. Never keep opened tubes to use later - eye ointments only keep for a maximum of four weeks once the tube has been opened.
Important information about all medicines
If you suspect that someone has swallowed some of this medicine, contact your doctor for advice or go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
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.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you buy any medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are safe to use with your other medicines.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading and references
Manufacturer's PIL, Zovirax® Eye Ointment; GlaxoSmithKline UK, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated September 2013.
British National Formulary, 75th Edition (Mar 2018); British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London.