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Antiviral eye-drops

BMJ Group Medical Reference

There's some good evidence that antiviral eye-drops can heal your eye.

Antiviral eye-drops are designed to kill the virus that's causing the infection. You'll probably be prescribed a treatment called aciclovir (brand name Zovirax). It comes as an ointment that's specially designed to go in your eye.

One summary of the research (a systematic review) showed that antiviral eye-drops worked better than dummy ( placebo) eye-drops. The research included more than 400 people with small areas of infection called ulcers on the surface of their eye's cornea. The ulcers were more likely to have healed after 14 days if people used antiviral eye-drops. [12]

The research also compared different types of antiviral eye-drops. It found that they all worked more or less the same. But idoxuridine seemed to work more slowly than the other eye-drops. Idoxuridine is not used in the UK.

The research did not mention whether antiviral eye-drops can be harmful. But you may find that when you use eye-drops your eyes: [13]

  • Water more than usual

  • Feel itchy and uncomfortable.



The cornea is a thin, clear film, which covers the front of your eye and helps you focus.


You get an infection when bacteria, a fungus, or a virus get into a part of your body where it shouldn't be. For example, an infection in your nose and airways causes the common cold. An infection in your skin can cause rashes such as athlete's foot. The organisms that cause infections are so tiny that you can't see them without a microscope.


A placebo is a 'pretend' or dummy treatment that contains no active substances. A placebo is often given to half the people taking part in medical research trials, for comparison with the 'real' treatment. It is made to look and taste identical to the drug treatment being tested, so that people in the studies do not know if they are getting the placebo or the 'real' treatment. Researchers often talk about the 'placebo effect'. This is where patients feel better after having a placebo treatment because they expect to feel better. Tests may indicate that they actually are better. In the same way, people can also get side effects after having a placebo treatment. Drug treatments can also have a 'placebo effect'. This is why, to get a true picture of how well a drug works, it is important to compare it against a placebo treatment.

systematic reviews

A systematic review is a thorough look through published research on a particular topic. Only studies that have been carried out to a high standard are included. A systematic review may or may not include a meta-analysis, which is when the results from individual studies are put together.


An ulcer is an open sore. Ulcers can happen in many parts of your body, such as in your stomach, and the skin of your legs, mouth, or genitals.


Viruses are microbes (tiny organisms) that need the cells of humans or other animals to exist. They use the machinery of cells to reproduce. Then they spread to other cells in the body.

For more terms related to Herpes simplex eye infection


For references related to Herpes simplex eye infection click here.
Last Updated: October 07, 2013
This information does not replace medical advice.  If you are concerned you might have a medical problem please ask your Boots pharmacy team in your local Boots store, or see your doctor.

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