Oxymetazoline (Ophthalmic)

Oxymetazoline eye drops are used to relieve the symptoms of the irritation that can be caused by dust, smog, chlorine or salt water etc.


Oxymetazoline is a non-prescription medication that is sold over the counter in solution form as ready-for-use eye drops. In the US, the product is sold under the brand names Ocuclear and Visine LR.

The drug is used to combat the minor irritation that can be caused to the eyes by cold viruses, smog, dust, windburn, wearing contact lenses, or the salt or chlorine in swimming pool or sea water.

Oxymetazoline is one of a class of medicines called vasoconstrictors. The drug works by causing the blood vessels within the eyes to become narrower, reducing redness and irritation.

Patients should note that this medication will not provide a cure for serious or chronic eye conditions such as conjunctivitis. It is designed to provide a temporary relief solution for minor eye irritations.

Conditions treated

  • Minor eye irritations

Type of medicine

  • Vasoconstrictor
  • Solution, eye drops

Side effects

Many medications, including oxymetazoline, can cause a few undesirable side effects, as well as the effects they are designed to provide. Not everyone who uses this medicine will have any side effects, but if you do, you may need to seek medical advice.

Patients who have used oxymetazoline for short periods have only very rarely reported any side effects, aside from a mild stinging sensation when the drops are first applied. Excess tearing may also occur, but this can often help to flush the eye of the active irritant and should not be considered amiss unless it persists for more than an hour or so.

If you notice any other side effects that are not mentioned in this guide, you should check with your GP right away. It may be the case that you have a more serious eye condition than you first thought, which will require further treatment with a different medicine.


You must not use oxymetazoline eye drops if the solution appears to be cloudy or changes in color.

Using oxymetazoline eye drops

  • Before using oxymetazoline eye drops, wash your hands and dry them thoroughly with a lint-free cloth or towel.
  • Tip your head back slightly. Use your forefinger to pull your bottom eyelid out slightly so that it creates a small pouch.
  • Drop the medication directly from the container into the pouch, and close your eyes.
  • Use your middle finger to apply gentle pressure to the inner corner of your eye. Keep the pressure on for a minute or so. Keep your eyes closed for a few minutes so that the drug is fully absorbed.
  • Always keep the lid firmly on the medication's container. Do not touch the tip of the eye drop applicator. Do not touch your eye with your fingers. These precautions will help to keep bacteria away from your eye, reducing the risk of infection.

Do not share your eye drops with anyone else as this could result in an infection transfer, especially if you have a more serious eye infection that you are not aware of.

Use the oxymetazoline eye drops exactly as directed by the instructions on the product packaging or in the patient information leaflet that should accompany it. Do not use the eye drops more frequently or in greater amounts than directed or for more than 72 hours, unless your GP tells you to. Overuse of the medicine could increase the irritation and cause side effects.

Dose of ophthalmic solution (eye drops):

  • Adults and children aged over six years: Place one drop of the solution into the affected eye/s six hourly.
  • Children under age six years: Discuss the use and dose of this medicine with your doctor.


Drug interactions

Some medicines should not be used in conjunction with other drugs, as this could cause an interaction to take place between them. However, using both medicines at the same time may be appropriate in your case, even though an interaction might occur. In this instance, your GP may change the dose of your medicine or suggest other precautions that you could take to prevent an interaction from happening. If you do regularly use any other medicines, it is advisable that you check with your doctor before you begin using oxymetazoline eye drops.

It is not recommended that you use oxymetazoline with any of the following medicines, although this may be necessary in some cases. If you are using both drugs at the same time, your GP may elect to change the dose or frequency of use of one or both of them:

  • Trimipramine
  • Tranylcypromine
  • Timolol
  • Tianeptine
  • Sotalol
  • Selegiline
  • Safinamide
  • Rasagiline
  • Protriptyline
  • Propranolol
  • Procarbazine
  • Practolol
  • Pindolol
  • Phenelzine
  • Penbutolol
  • Oxprenolol
  • Opipramol
  • Nortriptyline
  • Nialamide
  • Nadolol
  • Moclobemide
  • Metipranolol
  • Methylene Blue
  • Melitracen
  • Lofepramine
  • Linezolid
  • Levobunolol
  • Labetalol
  • Isocarboxazid
  • Iproniazid
  • Imipramine
  • Furazolidone
  • Fentanyl Citrate
  • Doxepin
  • Dibenzepin
  • Desipramine
  • Clomipramine
  • Carvedilol
  • Carteolol
  • Amoxapine
  • Amitriptylinoxide
  • Amitriptyline
  • Amineptine

Other interactions

Some drugs should not be used while you are eating or while you are eating particular foods. In addition, using tobacco or alcohol with some medications can cause interactions to take place. You should discuss this aspect of your treatment with your doctor before you begin using oxymetazoline.

Medical interactions

Some existing or historical medical conditions or illnesses can sometimes affect how oxymetazoline works. You should discuss your medical history with your GP before using this drug, especially if any of the following applies in your case.

If you have any history or eye diseases, injuries, or infections, you should tell your GP before using oxymetazoline. This medication may mask more serious problems.

Patients with a history of any of the following conditions should use oxymetazoline with caution, as if it is absorbed by the body, it could cause some side effects that could make these conditions worse:

  • Overactive thyroid
  • High blood pressure
  • Blood vessel or heart disease

Patients should note that using this medication on top of soft contact lenses is not recommended. Oxymetazoline contains a preservative, which could make some eye conditions worse if it is used in addition to wearing soft contact lenses. If possible, it is recommended that you wear glasses instead of lenses while you are using oxymetazoline.


Before you decide to use any new medicine, you should consider the risks of doing so against the benefits. If you are unsure about using oxymetazoline, you should discuss its use with your GP.


Before using oxymetazoline, you should mention to your GP any allergic reactions you have ever experienced when using other vasoconstrictor medications or other over the counter products. You should also check the product packaging carefully to see if the drops contain any food dyes, preservatives, or animal derivatives to which you have known allergies.


If you are intending to use oxymetazoline eye drops in children under the age of six years, you should consult your doctor first. Reddening of the eyes in children of this age group can be caused by certain medical conditions, as well as allergies, colds, dust etc. Other causes of eye irritation can include fevers and viruses such as measles.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

There have been no studies undertaken to suggest that oxymetazoline presents a risk to the unborn baby. However, pregnant women may wish to discuss the use of this drug with their midwife or doctor before using it.

There has been no research to show whether this medication can pass into breast milk where it could present a danger to a nursing infant. However, if you are breastfeeding, you may wish to take medical advice before you use oxymetazoline eye drops. Alternatively, you may choose to discontinue breastfeeding until you have stopped using this medication.

Medical complications

If you experience pain in your eye/s or notice any changes in your vision, or if the redness or irritation does not resolve or becomes worse after 72 hours, stop using oxymetazoline and consult your GP.


Oxymetazoline should be kept in its original container with the lid firmly fastened. Place the drug somewhere out of direct sunlight and away from heat sources. Do not refrigerate or freeze the medicine.

Keep your oxymetazoline eye drops where children and pets cannot reach them. If a pet does consume your medication, contact your vet for advice right away.

You should not keep or use any out-of-date medicines or drugs that you are no longer using.


Oxymetazoline is a vasoconstrictor medicine that is used in solution form to relieve minor eye irritations that are typically caused by foreign bodies, dust, swimming pool water, smoke etc. This medication is supplied as eye drops, which can be bought in pharmacies without the need for a doctor's prescription. The drops are packaged to make them convenient and easy for home use.

Although this drug is very safe to use and presents a very minimal risk of side effects, there are a large number of drugs that it may interact with. For this reason, you should discuss your medical history and current medicine usage with your GP, before you start self-treatment with this drug.