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Vidarabine (Ophthalmic)

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Vidarabine (Ophthalmic)

US Brand Names

• Vira-A

Canadian Brand Names

• Vira-A

Other commonly used names are arabinoside and ara-A.


Vidarabine (vye-DARE-a-been) ophthalmic preparations are used to treat virus infections of the eye.

Vidarabine is available only with your doctor's prescription, in the following dosage form:


    • Ophthalmic ointment (U.S. and Canada)

Special Considerations

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of using the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For vidarabine, the following should be considered:


Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to vidarabine. Also tell your health care professional if you are allergic to any other substances, such as preservatives.


Studies have not been done in humans. Studies in rats and rabbits have shown that vidarabine, given by injection, causes birth defects. In addition, studies in rabbits have shown that vidarabine, applied as a 10% ointment to the skin, may cause birth defects or other problems. However, these doses are much higher than those used in the eyes of humans. Therefore, the chance that vidarabine ophthalmic ointment would cause birth defects or other problems in humans is very small.


It is not known whether vidarabine, applied to the eyes, is absorbed into the body and passes into the breast milk. Although most medicines pass into breast milk in small amounts, many of them may be used safely while breast-feeding. Mothers who are taking this medicine and who wish to breast-feed should discuss this with their doctor.


Although there is no specific information comparing use of vidarabine in children with use in other age groups, it is not expected to cause different side effects or problems in children than it does in adults.

Older adults

Many medicines have not been studied specifically in older people. Therefore, it may not be known whether they work exactly the same way they do in younger adults or if they cause different side effects or problems in older people. There is no specific information comparing use of vidarabine in the elderly with use in other age groups.

Other medicines

Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your health care professional if you are using any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine in your eyes.


To use:

    • First, wash your hands. Then pull the lower eyelid away from the eye to form a pouch. Squeeze a thin strip of ointment into the pouch. A 1.25-cm (approximately -inch) strip of ointment is usually enough unless otherwise directed by your doctor. Gently close the eyes and keep them closed for 1 or 2 minutes to allow the medicine to come into contact with the infection.

    • To keep the medicine as germ-free as possible, do not touch the applicator tip to any surface (including the eye). After using vidarabine eye ointment, wipe the tip of the ointment tube with a clean tissue and keep the tube tightly closed.

Do not use this medicine more often or for a longer time than your doctor ordered . To do so may cause problems in the eyes. If you have any questions about this, check with your doctor.

To help clear up your infection completely, keep using this medicine for the full time of treatment , even if your symptoms have disappeared. Do not miss any doses .


The dose of ophthalmic vidarabine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label . The following information includes only the average doses of ophthalmic vidarabine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The number of doses you use each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you use the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using ophthalmic vidarabine .

    • For ophthalmic ointment dosage forms:

      o For virus eye infection:

        Adults and children-Use in each eye every three hours (five times a day). After healing has occurred, the dose may be reduced to two times a day for seven days more.

Missed dose

If you miss a dose of this medicine, apply it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule.


To store this medicine:

    • Keep out of the reach of children.

    • Store away from heat and direct light.

    • Keep the medicine from freezing.

    • Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed. Be sure that any discarded medicine is out of the reach of children.


After application, eye ointments usually cause your vision to blur for a few minutes.

It is very important that you keep your appointments with your doctor. If your symptoms become worse, check with your doctor sooner.

This medicine may cause your eyes to become more sensitive to light than they are normally. Wearing sunglasses and avoiding too much exposure to bright light may help lessen the discomfort.

Side Effects

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

Increased sensitivity of eyes to light; itching, redness, swelling, pain, burning, or other sign of irritation not present before use of this medicine.

Other side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. However, check with your doctor if either of the following side effects continues or is bothersome:

Excess flow of tears; feeling of something in the eye.

Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your doctor.

July 01, 1993

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