Are there any risks in using neomycin and bacitracin to treat eye infections?

Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Pharmacy Specialist

Ophthalmic neomycin and bacitracin treats eye infections by weakening the walls of bacteria cells in the eye, limiting the ability of these cells to grow. To ensure full treatment, you need to apply this medication to your lower eyelid several times a day for seven to 10 days. (Neomycin and bacitracin is not effective against viral infections of the eye.) Specific bacterial infections of the eye or eyelid that neomycin and bacitracin can treat include: keratitis, keratoconjunctivitis, conjunctivitis, blepharitis and blepharoconjunctivitis.

The main risk of using neomycin and bacitracin in the eyes is eye irritation, burning and stinging. In rare instances, some people may experience allergic reaction to either component of this medication. Do not use neomycin and bacitracin if you have had an allergic reaction to the following antibiotics: polymyxin B, neomycin, bacitracin, gramicidin or oxytetracycline. Studies have not shown whether neomycin and bacitracin impacts a developing fetus or a breastfeeding child. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, be sure to talk to your doctor when weighing the risks and benefits of using this medication.


When using neomycin and bacitracin to treat an eye infection, you should avoid:

  • Adding any contaminants into your eyes. (Wash your hands before applying the ointment, and be sure not to touch the tip of the bottle to any surfaces, including your fingers, eye or eyelid.)
  • Using outdated medications. (Throw away any unused product when you have completed your course of treatment. Do not use old medications to treat a future infection.)
  • Sharing this medication with others.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.