Dexamethasone eye drop side effects

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 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

  1. Wash your hands well before you use the drops.
  2. Remove the cap (or twist off the tip of the unit if you are using a single-use unit).
  3. Tilt your head back a little and pull the lower lid of your eye out to form a pocket.
  4. Hold the bottle (or single-use unit) 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. Only use a second drop if the first drop missed going 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. (The contents of one single-use unit are enough for both eyes.)
  8. 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.

Dexamethasone eye drops

What is this medicine?

DEXAMETHASONE (dex a METH a sone) is a corticosteroid. It is used to treat swelling, redness, itching, and allergic reactions in the eye.

This medicine may be used for other purposes; ask your health care provider or pharmacist if you have questions.

COMMON BRAND NAME(S): AK-Dex, Decadron, Maxidex

What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:

  • any active infection

  • cataracts or glaucoma

  • contact lens wearer

  • an unusual or allergic reaction to dexamethasone, corticosteroids, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives

  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant

  • breast-feeding

How should I use this medicine?

This medicine is only for use in the eye. Do not take by mouth. Follow the directions on the prescription label. Wash hands before and after use. Tilt your head back slightly and pull the lower eyelid away from the eye to form a pouch. Try not to touch the tip of the dropper to your eye, fingertips, or other surface. Squeeze the prescribed number of drops into the pouch. Close the eye for a few moments to spread the drops. Do not use more often than directed.

Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed.

Overdosage: If you think you have taken too much of this medicine contact a poison control center or emergency room at once.

NOTE: This medicine is only for you. Do not share this medicine with others.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, use only that dose. Do not use double or extra doses.

What may interact with this medicine?

Interactions are not expected. Do not use any other eye products without asking your doctor or health care professional.

This list may not describe all possible interactions. Give your health care provider a list of all the medicines, herbs, non-prescription drugs, or dietary supplements you use. Also tell them if you smoke, drink alcohol, or use illegal drugs. Some items may interact with your medicine.

What should I watch for while using this medicine?

Check with your doctor or health care professional if your condition does not start to get better, or if it gets worse. Check with your doctor or health care professional before using this medicine for any future eye problems. Tell your doctor or health care professional if you are exposed to anyone with measles or chickenpox, or if you develop sores or blisters that do not heal properly.

If you wear contact lenses, ask your doctor or health care professional when you can use your lenses again. If you can continue wearing your lenses during treatment, wait 15 minutes after application of the product before inserting your lenses.

What side effects may I notice from receiving this medicine?

Side effects that you should report to your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible:

  • allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue

  • change in the amount of urine

  • changes in vision

  • fever, sore throat, sneezing, cough, or other signs of infection, wounds that will not heal

  • increased thirst

  • mental depression, mood swings, mistaken feelings of self importance or of being mistreated

  • pain in hips, back, ribs, arms, shoulders, or legs

  • redness, blistering, peeling or loosening of the skin, including inside the mouth

  • swelling of feet or lower legs

  • unusual bleeding or bruising

  • unusually weak or tired

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your doctor or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):

  • headache

  • nausea, vomiting

  • skin problems, acne, thin and shiny skin

  • weight gain

This list may not describe all possible side effects. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Where should I keep my medicine?

Keep out of the reach of children.

Store at room temperature between 15 and 30 degrees C (59 and 86 degrees F). Do not freeze. Throw away any unused medicine after the expiration date.

NOTE: This sheet is a summary. It may not cover all possible information. If you have questions about this medicine, talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care provider.

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Maxidex Suspension

Medical Editor: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP

Last reviewed on RxList 9/17/2019

Maxidex (dexamethasone ophthalmic suspension) 0.1% Suspension is an adrenocortical steroid used for:

  • steroid responsive inflammatory conditions of the palpebral and bulbar conjunctiva,
  • cornea,
  • and anterior segment of the globe such as allergic conjunctivitis,
  • acne rosacea,
  • superficial punctate keratitis,
  • herpes zoster keratitis,
  • iritis,
  • cyclitis,
  • selected infective conjunctivitides when the inherent hazard of steroid use is accepted to obtain an advisable diminution in edema and inflammation;
  • corneal injury from chemical,
  • radiation,
  • or thermal burns,
  • or penetration of foreign bodies.

Common side effects of Maxidex include:

  • glaucoma with optic nerve damage,
  • vision problems,
  • cataracts,
  • secondary eye infection following suppression of host response,
  • and perforation of the outer membranes of the eye.

The dose of Maxidex is one or two drops topically in the eye(s). In severe disease, drops may be used hourly, being tapered to discontinuation as the inflammation subsides. In mild disease, drops may be used up to four to six times daily. Maxidex may interact with other drugs. Tell your doctor all medications and supplements you use. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant before using Maxidex; it is unknown how it would affect a fetus. Prolonged or repeated corticoid use during pregnancy has been associated with an increased risk of delayed fetal growth. It is unknown if topical Maxidex passes into breast milk in sufficient quantities to affect a nursing infant. Systemically administered corticosteroids pass into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breastfeeding.

Our Maxidex (dexamethasone ophthalmic suspension) 0.1% Suspension Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Dexamethasone, Oral Tablet

Dexamethasone oral tablet can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Examples of drugs that can cause interactions with dexamethasone are listed below.


Erythromycin is used to treat infections caused by bacteria. When used with dexamethasone, this drug can increase the amount of dexamethasone in your body. This raises your risk of side effects.

Antifungal drugs

When used with dexamethasone, certain drugs used to treat fungal infections can increase the level of dexamethasone in your blood. This can raise your risk of side effects. Examples of these drugs include:

  • ketoconazole
  • itraconazole
  • posaconazole
  • voriconazole

Amphotericin B is another drug used to treat fungal infections. Using this drug with dexamethasone raises your risk of low potassium levels. (Potassium is a mineral that helps your nerves, muscles, and organs work normally.) This can cause muscle cramps, weakness, tiredness, and an irregular heartbeat.

Blood thinners

Using dexamethasone with certain blood thinners can decrease the levels of these drugs in your body. This can make them less effective, and raise your risk of clots or stroke. Examples of these drugs include:

  • apixaban
  • rivaroxaban

Warfarin is also used to thin the blood. Using dexamethasone with this drug may result in changes to your risk of bleeding. Your doctor may need to monitor you closely.

Cholesterol drugs

If you take dexamethasone with certain drugs used to lower cholesterol, it can keep your body from absorbing dexamethasone well. This could keep dexamethasone from working well. Examples of these drugs include:

  • cholestyramine
  • colesevelam
  • colestipol

Cushing’s syndrome drugs

Aminoglutethimide is used to treat symptoms of Cushing’s syndrome (a disease of the adrenal gland). Using this drug with dexamethasone may decrease the amount of dexamethasone in your body. This means it may not work as well.

Diabetes drugs

Dexamethasone may increase your blood glucose. If you take diabetes drugs, your doctor may need to change your dose. Examples of these drugs include:

  • amylin analogs, such as:
    • pramlintide
  • biguanides, such as:
    • metformin
  • GLP-1 agonists, such as:
    • exenatide
    • liraglutide
    • lixisenatide
  • DPP4 inhibitors, such as:
    • saxagliptin
    • sitagliptin
  • insulin
  • meglitinides, such as:
    • nateglinide
    • repaglinide
  • sulfonylureas, such as:
    • glimepiride
    • glipizide
    • glyburide
  • SGLT-2 inhibitors, such as:
    • canagliflozin
    • dapagliflozin
    • empagliflozin
  • thiazolidinediones, such as:
    • pioglitazone
    • rosiglitazone

Diuretics (water pills)

When used with dexamethasone, these drugs reduce your body’s potassium levels. (Potassium is a mineral that helps your nerves, muscles, and organs work normally.) This can cause muscle cramps, weakness, tiredness, and an irregular heartbeat. Examples of these drugs include:

  • bumetanide
  • furosemide
  • hydrochlorothiazide

Epilepsy drugs

When used with dexamethasone, certain drugs used to treat epilepsy can lower the level of dexamethasone in your blood. This can keep dexamethasone from working well. Examples of these drugs include:

  • phenytoin
  • fosphenytoin
  • phenobarbital
  • carbamazepine

Heart drugs

Digoxin is used to treat heart rhythm problems or heart failure. Taking this drug with dexamethasone could increase your risk of irregular heartbeats caused by low potassium levels. (Potassium is a mineral that helps your nerves, muscles, and organs work normally.)


Taking certain hormones with dexamethasone can cause decreased levels of these hormones in your body. Your doctor may have to adjust your dose of either the dexamethasone or hormone medications. Examples of these drugs include:

  • estrogens
  • oral contraceptives

HIV drugs

Taking certain drugs used to treat HIV with dexamethasone can reduce the levels of these drugs in your body. This means they may not work as well, and your body may stop responding to your HIV medications. Your doctor may avoid use of these drugs with dexamethasone. Examples of these drugs include:

  • protease inhibitors, such as:
    • atazanavir
    • darunavir
    • fosamprenavir
    • indinavir
    • nelfinavir
    • ritonavir
    • saquinavir
    • simeprevir
    • tipranavir
  • non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors, such as:
    • etravirine
  • entry inhibitors, such as:
    • maraviroc
  • integrase inhibitors, such as:
    • elvitegravir


Using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) with dexamethasone raises your risk of stomach upset. Talk with your doctor about whether you can take these drugs together. Examples of NSAIDs include:

  • aspirin
  • ibuprofen
  • indomethacin
  • naproxen

Tuberculosis drugs

When used with dexamethasone, certain drugs used to treat tuberculosis (TB) can lower the level of dexamethasone in your blood. This can keep dexamethasone from working well. Examples of these drugs include:

  • rifampin
  • rifabutin
  • rifapentine

Isoniazid is another TB drug. When it’s used with dexamethasone, levels of isoniazid can be lowered. This can keep isoniazid from working well.


Avoid getting vaccines when taking dexamethasone. Certain vaccines may not work as well for people taking this drug. Also, the drug may make some live vaccines stronger. This raises the risk of side effects from the vaccine.

Other drugs

Aspirin is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It’s often used to treat pain, as well as thin the blood to reduce your risk of heart attack. Dexamethasone can decrease your aspirin levels. This can make aspirin less effective and increase your risk of heart attack. Also, aspirin can increase your risk of bleeding from stomach ulceration (sores) when used with dexamethasone. If you take aspirin, talk with your doctor about whether dexamethasone is safe for you.

Thalidomide is used to treat skin lesions and multiple myeloma. Combining it with dexamethasone can cause toxic epidermal necrolysis. This skin condition can be life-threatening. If your doctor prescribes both of these drugs for you, they will be cautious about effects the combination can cause.

Cyclosporine is used to prevent organ rejection in transplant patients, as well as to treat rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis. Taking this drug with dexamethasone could increase the risk that your immune system will be suppressed (won’t work well). This would raise your risk of infection. Seizures have also been reported when these drugs are used together.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.

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