Contraindication to use of Chloramphenicol 0.5% eye drops in children under 2 years of age at Staffordshire Local Optical Committee

Contraindication to use of Chloramphenicol 0.5% eye drops in children under 2 years of age

Following on from recent communication to GP practices from NHSE, we are now confirming the situation with the use of topical Chloramphenicol 0.5% eye drops and 1% eye ointment in children who are under 2 years of age.

The product literature for Chloramphenicol eye drops 0.5% states that it is contraindicated in children under 2 years of age due to the Boron content which may impair fertility. Chloramphenicol eye ointment 1% is a licensed option if required in this age group providing that it is prescribed. The eye ointment does not contain any Boron. Community pharmacies are unable to sell this medicine for children under 2 years of age. Please see below for the self-care and prescribing information from the antimicrobial guidelines as a reminder of when a topical antibacterial is appropriate to be used in the treatment of conjunctivitis.

Conjunctivitis - only treat if severe or clinically indicated, as most infections are viral or self-limiting. Bacterial conjunctivitis is usually unilateral and also self-limiting. It is characterised by red eye with yellow-white mucopurulent, not watery discharge. 65% of cases resolve by day 5 without treatment. Fusidic Acid has less Gram-negative activity.

First lineSELF CARE bathe/clean eyelids with cotton wool dipped in sterile saline or boiled and cooled water to remove crusting.

Treat only if severe as most cases are viral or self-limiting.


The LOC is forwarding this development for your immediate attention. However, for further queries and updates on this matter, please refer to College of Optometrists website/CMG. Thank you.

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