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Generic Name:

dexamethasone, Ophthalmic suspension

All Brands

  • Maxidex
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Highlights for dexamethasone

Ophthalmic suspension
1

Dexamethasone eye drops are used to treat eye inflammation. They can be used to treat macular edema (swelling in the eye) caused by diabetes or other conditions. The eye drops also used to treat inflammation in the eyes caused by an allergy or infection.

2

Dexamethasone comes as an oral tablet, oral solution, or eye drops. It’s also available as an injectable solution, which is only given by a healthcare provider.

3

The dexamethasone eye drops are available as the brand-name drug Maxidex. They’re also available as a generic drug.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Contamination

Don’t touch the dropper directly to your eye or any other surface. This can get bacteria or other germs on the dropper. This can cause infections that lead to serious eye damage or loss of vision.

Infection

Dexamethasone eye drops can cover up or worsen certain eye infections. Don’t use the drops if you have fungal or viral infections of the eye, including herpes simplex (dendritic keratitis), vaccinia, or varicella. Also, don’t use this medication if you have tuberculosis of the eye.

Long-term use

The risk of side effects increases the longer you use these eye drops.

What is dexamethasone?

Dexamethasone is a prescription medication. It’s available as an oral tablet, an oral solution, or eye drops. It’s also available as an injectable solution, which is only given by a healthcare provider.

Dexamethasone eye drops are available as the brand-name drug Maxidex. They are also available as a generic drug. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version. 

Why it's used

Dexamethasone eye drops are used to treat eye inflammation. Symptoms can include pain or swelling in the eye.

How it works

Dexamethasone belongs to a class of drugs called steroids. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way.

More Details

How it works

Dexamethasone belongs to a class of drugs called steroids. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

With certain conditions, inflammation can cause the immune system to be overactive. This can damage the body's tissues. Steroids such as dexamethasone help block the immune system’s response to inflammation, which helps prevent this damage.

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dexamethasone Side Effects

Ophthalmic suspension

More Common Side Effects

The more common side effects that can occur with these dexamethasone eye drops include:

  • redness

  • stinging

  • burning

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious Side Effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Worsening vision

  • Secondary eye infection (an infection following the infection being treated). Symptoms can include:

    • worsened eye redness
    • itching
    • burning
    • discharge
  • Glaucoma with optic nerve damage

  • Increased intraocular pressure (fluid pressure inside the eye)

  • Cataracts

Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

Dexamethasone doesn't cause drowsiness.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
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dexamethasone May Interact with Other Medications

Ophthalmic suspension

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 dexamethasone might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

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.
Dexamethasone warnings
eye infections
People with eye infections

Dexamethasone eye drops can cover up or worsen certain infections of the eye. Don’t use them if you have fungal or viral infections of the eye. These include herpes simplex (dendritic keratitis), vaccinia, or varicella. Also, don’t use this medication if you have tuberculosis of the eye.

pregnant women
Pregnant women

Dexamethasone is a category C pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in animals has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. There haven’t been enough studies done in humans to be certain how the drug might affect the fetus.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. This drug should only be used if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

breastfeeding
Women who are breast-feeding

It’s not known how much of this drug, if any, enters the breast milk. Because of the risk of side effects, talk to your doctor about using dexamethasone while breast-feeding.

children
For children

A safe and effective dose for children hasn’t been established.

telephone
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor if your vision gets worse, or you have symptoms of a secondary eye infection (an infection following the infection being treated). Symptoms can include:

  • worsened eye redness
  • itching
  • burning
  • discharge
allergies
Allergies

Sulfite allergy: Some dexamethasone products contain sulfites as a preservative (such as sodium bisulfate).  Don’t use dexamethasone drops that contain sulfites if you have a sulfite allergy.

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How to Take dexamethasone (Dosage)

Ophthalmic suspension

All possible dosages and forms may not be included here. Your dose, form, and how often you take it will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Inflammation of the eye due to injury or infection

Brand: Maxidex

Form: Eye drop 0.1% suspension

Generic: dexamethasone

Form: Eye drop 0.1% suspension
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)

Typical dosage: 1 or 2 drops into the conjunctival sac (the area behind the bottom eyelid). Don’t instill directly onto the eyeball. Your doctor may advise you as follows:

  • With severe disease, use drops hourly.
  • With mild disease, use drops up to 4–6 times per day.
  • Decrease the dosage as the inflammation improves.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

A safe and effective dose for children hasn’t been established.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

Dexamethasone eye drops come with serious risks if you don’t take them as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug suddenly or don’t take it at all

The symptoms from your eye infection may get worse.

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body at all times.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include increased symptoms in the eye(s), such as:

  • redness
  • burning
  • itching
  • discharge
  • blurred vision

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

What to do if you miss a dose

If you miss a dose, wait and take the next dose as planned. Don’t double your dose.

How to tell if the drug is working

The symptoms of your eye infection should be reduced. These can include the following symptoms in your eyes:

  • redness
  • burning
  • itching
  • discharge
  • blurred vision

Dexamethasone eye drops are used for short-term treatment.

Store this drug carefully

  • Keep dexamethasone eye drops at a temperature between 46°F and 80°F (8°C and 27°C).
  • Store this medication in an upright position.

A prescription for this medication is refillable

You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Self-management

  • Shake the medication well before using.
  • Place the drops into the conjunctival sac (the area behind the bottom eyelid). Don’t place them directly onto the eyeball.

Clinical monitoring

Your doctor may monitor you. This is because long-term use of dexamethasone eye drops can lead to increased intraocular pressure (fluid pressure inside the eye).

Your doctor may want to measure your eye pressure if you take these eye drops for more than 10 days.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

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How Much Does dexamethasone Cost?

Ophthalmic suspension

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Lowest price for dexamethasone

Kroger Pharmacy $9.85
Walmart $12.85
Sams Club $12.85
These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for dexamethasone on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for dexamethasone on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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Content developed in collaboration with Stacey Boudreaux, PharmD

Medically reviewed by Susan J. Bliss, RPh, MBA, Alan Carter, PharmD, and Mohamed Jalloh, PharmD, RPh on November 16, 2015

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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