Sulfonamide (Ophthalmic, Topical)

Sulfonamides, which are often referred to as sulfa medications, are an anti-bacterial that is used in the treatment of eye infections. The drug is typically administered via eye drops or ointment and is available via prescription.


Sulfonamide is an anti-bacterial medication that is commonly used to fight eye infections. This medication is available via prescription and comes in both ointment and eye drop delivery options. Patients that are using sulfonamide are encouraged to complete the entire course of treatment even in such cases where their symptoms improve after a small number of doses. Completing the entire prescribed dosage amount will effectively eliminate the current infection and stop it from returning.

Eye infections that are being actively treated with sulfonamide should clear up in a short period of time, typically less than 1 week. If your symptoms persist or worsen you should seek medical attention. Patients that are unsure about the effectiveness of the treatment should also consult their prescribing physician.

Side effects of this medication are typically mild and will likely go away on their own. Patients that experience blurry vision, swelling, itching, or other discomforts that last longer than a few days should contact their physician or eye doctor for advice. You may also experience such symptoms when the drug is applied, and if they persist longer than a few minutes it may be a sign of a more serious issue and medical advice should be sought.

As with any eye treatment, it is important to minimize the chance of infection, and patients should thoroughly wash their hands prior to the application of this medicine. Drops or ointment are applied directly onto the eye and care must be taken to avoid contamination of the applicator and spreading the infection.

Children should follow the advice of their physician or eye doctor when using sulfonamide in the treatment of an eye infection. Skipped doses should be taken as soon as possible except in cases where it is close in time to the next dosage. Do not ever take a double dose as it can cause harm to the eye and the patient's overall health. If there is confusion about what to do when a scheduled dosage is missed, it is advisable to consult your pharmacist or eye doctor for clarification.

Condition(s) Treated

Type of Medicine

  • Anti-Bacterial

Side Effects

The most common side effects of sulfonamide, whether administered via eye drops or ointment, are itching, burning, blurriness, or other discomforts of the eye area. These side effects typically dissipate on their own and should be mild in nature. If they persist or worsen, it is always best practice to contact your doctor for further advice.


Sulfonamide is administered directly to the eye area, either via eye drops or ointment, and it is imperative to exercise thorough hand washing practices prior to its application. In order to prevent infection do not touch the applicator or allow it to touch the eye directly. Many patients report significant improvement in their symptoms almost immediately but it is important to complete the entire course of treatment as directed by your physician or eye doctor.

Follow the steps below to ensure the appropriate application of sulfonamide:

  • Wash hands thoroughly
  • Tilt head back as far as comfortable
  • Hold your eyes open by gently pulling down on the lower eyelid
  • Squeeze the applicator to release a drop onto the lower part of the eye and close the eye to allow the solution to be absorbed into the eye
  • For a full 1-2 minutes keep the eye closed without blinking and let the solution fully enter the eye
  • If the drop does not reach the infection administer another drop

Following the dosage be sure to close the bottle completely to prevent bacteria from contaminating the medicine. Remember that it is important that the applicator remains sterile and does not touch anything, especially the surface of the infected eye.

Patients that are prescribed sulfonamide in ointment form should follow the steps below:

  • Wash hands thoroughly
  • Gently pull the lower eyelid downward
  • Dispense the prescribed amount of the ointment onto the eye without allowing the container to come into direct contact with the infected eye
  • Typical prescriptions equal a half to one-inch measurement of ointment
  • For a full 1-2 minutes keep the eye closed without blinking and let the solution fully enter the eye
  • Following application wipe the applicator with a sterile cloth or tissue and tightly secure the cap

Adults who are treating an eye infection via drops will administer the solution ever 1-3 hours depending on the advice of their physician or eye doctor. Children that are using sulfonamide for the treatment of an eye infection must follow the direction provided by their doctor.

The sulfonamide ointment is administered four times throughout the day and again at bedtime. Again, any children that are using this drug should follow the advice of their physician or eye doctor.

Major Drug Interactions

While there are no known negative interactions with other drugs, it is always advised that patients notify their healthcare providers of all drugs that they are taking. This includes both prescription and non-prescription medications along with any herbal remedies, and vitamin and mineral supplements.


This drug has been known to cause blurry vision upon use. This blurriness will typically clear up on its own after a few minutes and is not cause for alarm. After applying the medication it is important that you not rub or otherwise touch the eyes. Prior to driving a car or participating in other activities that require clear vision, be sure that any blurriness, stinging, or other eye discomforts have dissipated.

Patients that are using sulfonamide for the first time should allow plenty of time following the application for these effects to clear up. Allow yourself time to understand how the medication will affect you and plan accordingly if you need to drive or engage in other activities in which you need clear vision.

If the blurriness, stinging, or other discomforts linger for more than a couple of days, consult your prescribing doctor for advice.


Ideally, all medications should be kept in their original packaging and in a cool and dry location. Due to the sensitivity of applying this medication to the eye, it is important to guard against infection and keep the medication applicator as clean as possible. Do not expose the medication to excessive heat or cold and do not allow the solution to freeze.

Keep this and all medications out of the reach of children.

If you have excess medication at the end of your course of treatment or have expired medication, check with your pharmacist or doctor to ensure that appropriate disposal methods are utilized.


Sulfonamide is an effective treatment for patients that are suffering from an eye infection. This anti-bacterial medication prevents the infection from spreading and helps to clear up the existing ailment. Children who are suffering from an eye infection should follow the direction of their pediatrician when using this drug as the dosage will vary from that recommended to adults.

The medication is available through a doctor's prescription and comes in both eye drops and ointments. Patients often report a significant relief in their symptoms after just a few doses but it is highly recommended that people using the drug complete the entire course of treatment to completely eliminate the infection and prevent it from returning.

It is important that care is taken when administering this medication in order to prevent the spread of infection. Be sure to thoroughly wash your hands prior to application. Do not allow the applicator or ointment container to touch the eye or any other surface. If you are applying ointment, be sure to wipe the container with a clean cloth or tissue following application.

There are no known major drug interactions and side effects are minor. It is always best practice to inform your healthcare provider of all medications, both prescription and over the counter, and supplements that you are taking before beginning a new medication. The drugs that you are currently using may cause your prescribing doctor to modify the dosage amount or choose an alternative medication to treat your condition.

Patients who are experiencing an eye infection will typically find that their symptoms improve quickly and completely with the use of sulfonamide. For those whose infection worsens or lingers, it may be a sign of a more serious condition and medical advice should be sought as soon as possible.

Last Reviewed:
December 23, 2017
Last Updated:
April 03, 2018
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