Dexamethasone eye drops are usually prescribed by an eye specialist.
Unless you've been told otherwise, use the drops every 30-60 minutes until your symptoms are controlled and then 4-6 times a day for a few days.
Eye drops can cause blurred vision when first put in. Do not drive and do not use tools or machines until your vision is clear again.
About dexamethasone eye drops
|Type of medicine||Corticosteroid eye drops|
|Used for||To treat eye inflammation|
|Also called||Maxidex®; Minims® Dexamethasone; Dexafree®; Dropodex®; Eythalm®|
|Available as||Eye drops, and single-use units|
Dexamethasone eye drops are used to treat short-term inflammatory eye conditions. They are usually prescribed by an eye specialist. They contain a corticosteroid (sometimes called a 'steroid') which helps relieve inflammation, redness and irritation.
Some dexamethasone eye drops also contain an anti-infective medicine. These drops are sometimes used to prevent infections from developing following eye surgery.
Before using dexamethasone eye drops
To make sure this is the right treatment for you, before you start using the eye drops it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to any eye drops or other medicine.
- If you think you may have an eye infection.
- If you have damaged corneas.
- If you wear soft contact lenses.
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- If you have diabetes or there is a history of diabetes in your family.
- If you are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.
How to use dexamethasone eye drops
- Wash your hands well before you use the drops.
- Remove the cap (or twist off the tip of the unit if you are using a single-use unit).
- Tilt your head back a little and pull the lower lid of your eye out to form a pocket.
- Hold the bottle (or single-use unit) upside down near to your eye. Try not to touch your eye as you do this.
- Apply enough pressure to release one drop into your eye. Only use a second drop if the first drop missed going into your eye.
- 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.
- Repeat the process in your other eye if you have been told to use the drops in both eyes. (The contents of one single-use unit are enough for both eyes.)
- Replace the cap (or if you are using the single-use unit, throw it away).
Getting the most from your treatment
- Before you use the eye drops, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from the pack. It will give you more information about the eye drops and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from using them.
- Use the eye drops exactly as your doctor tells you to. It is usual to apply the drops frequently during the first two days until your symptoms are controlled - typically every 30-60 minutes while you are awake. Once your eye begins to feel better, reduce the frequency of using the drops to 4-6 times a day.
- Dexamethasone eye drops are only meant to be used for a short period of time. Do not use them for longer than one week unless your doctor advises you otherwise. This is because they can cause problems within your eye when used for longer than recommended.
- Take care not to touch the tip of the dropper with your eye, fingers or any other surface. This will help to prevent the risk of infection.
- When first put in, eye drops can cause blurred vision. This should quickly clear but make sure you can see properly before you drive and before you use tools or machines, as otherwise you may put yourself and others at risk.
- If you are using any other eye drops or ointments, leave about ten minutes between applying each one. This is to prevent more liquid going into your eye than it can handle. Otherwise the drops will overflow from your eye and may not have the intended effect.
- If your symptoms do not improve within a few days, or if they become worse, speak again with your doctor.
- If you normally wear contact lenses, do not wear them again until your doctor advises you do so. There are two reasons for this - you should not wear lenses while your eyes are inflamed, and bottles of eye drops contain a preservative which can affect some soft contact lenses.
Can dexamethasone eye drops cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, eye drops can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains the most common ones associated with dexamethasone eye drops. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your drops. 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.
|Dexamethasone eye drops side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Mild discomfort or irritation||This should quickly pass. If the discomfort continues, speak with your doctor|
|Blurred vision||This usually disappears within a few minutes. Do not drive and do not use tools unless you can see clearly|
|Dry eyes, sensitivity to light||Wearing sunglasses may help|
Occasionally people can be allergic to eye drops, particularly if the eye drops contain a preservative. If you notice a rash around your eyes, or any swelling or itching, stop using the drops and contact a doctor for advice. If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the eye drops, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store dexamethasone eye drops
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
- Eye drops only keep for four weeks once the bottle has been opened so throw away the bottle after this time, even if there is some solution left. This will help to prevent the risk of eye infections.
- Single-use units should be used as soon as the unit is opened. Do not keep opened units to re-use at a later time.
Important information about all medicines
If you suspect that someone has swallowed some of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.
Do not use more than the prescribed dose.
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, Maxidex®; Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated June 2020.
British National Formulary, 81st Edition (Mar 2021); British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London.