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Neosporin for the Eyes: What It Is & When to Use It

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Neosporin ophthalmic ointment is a liquid solution that can be prescribed to patients by doctors.

The substance is generally used to cure or alleviate symptoms in patients suffering from eye infections, primarily those caused by bacteria. Some of the common ailments that Neosporin ophthalmic ointment may be used to treat include pink eye, keratitis, or dry eye.

While Neosporin ophthalmic ointment is safe for most patients, some people may experience different side effects or have an allergic reaction to one of the components. Because of this, it is important to only apply the ointment if it is prescribed by a medical professional. 

It’s important to note that using regular Neosporin in the eye is not safe.

Regular Neosporin vs. Neosporin for the Eyes

Neosporin is an ointment that can be applied to areas of the skin that are suffering from cuts, scrapes, or burns. The purpose of Neosporin is to prevent bacterial infection in damaged areas. The ointment is applied in the form of a cream to these injured areas. You don’t want to put regular Neosporin in your eye.

Neosporin ophthalmic ointment, on the other hand, is specifically formulated to be used on the eyes. This form of the ointment is liquid, and it is applied through a dropper.


There are a variety of uses for Neosporin ophthalmic ointment. These are the four most prevalent:


Neosporin ophthalmic ointment can be used to treat bacterial conjunctivitis, which is commonly known as pink eye. In most cases, conjunctivitis will clear up by itself, but antibiotics like Neosporin ophthalmic ointment can help with symptoms and potentially speed up the recovery process.

According to the CDC, symptoms of conjunctivitis include the following:

  • Red or pink coloration of the eyes
  • Swelling in your conjunctiva (the mucous membrane that covers the eye and lines the eyelids) or in your eyelids
  • Excessive tearing
  • Itching
  • Burning
  • Irritation
  • Discharge of mucus or pus
  • Formation of a crust on the eyelids or eyelashes
  • Discomfort with contact lenses


Neosporin ophthalmic ointment can be used to treat bacterial keratitis, an infection that affects the cornea. When left untreated, keratitis can cause serious damage to the eyes and potential blindness.

Symptoms of keratitis include the following:

  • Sudden pain in the eye
  • Redness
  • Impaired vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Excessive tearing
  • Discharge of mucus or pus


Neosporin ophthalmic ointment may be used to treat some forms of keratoconjunctivitis, which is a combination of conjunctivitis and keratitis. There are different forms of this condition.

  • Epidemic keratoconjunctivitis: This is an incredibly contagious form of the disease, and infected individuals are contagious for 10 to 14 days. Neosporin ophthalmic ointment is not shown to be an effective treatment for this form of keratoconjunctivitis.
  • Vernal keratoconjunctivitis: This form of the disease may be seasonally recurring, and it generally affects those in hot and dry areas. Neosporin ophthalmic ointment is not shown to be an effective treatment for this form of keratoconjunctivitis.
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca: This is a much milder form of the disease commonly known as dry eye. Neosporin ophthalmic ointment may be an effective treatment for this form of keratoconjunctivitis if prescribed by a medical professional.

Given the variety of forms this ailment can take, make sure to consult your doctor for an accurate diagnosis. They will be able to tell you if Neosporin ophthalmic ointment is the right treatment for your condition.


Neosporin ophthalmic ointment can treat blepharitis, inflammation of the eyelids.

Blepharitis symptoms include the following:

  • Redness of the eyelids
  • Swelling of the eyelids
  • Burning of the eyelids
  • Crusting at the base of the eyelashes


Neosporin ophthalmic ointment can be used to treat blepharoconjunctivitis, which is a progression of blepharitis that also causes conjunctivitis.

Neosporin ophthalmic ointment is especially effective in cases where blepharoconjunctivitis is caused by bacteria. In these cases, it should be used alongside caring for and cleaning affected areas as recommended by a medical professional.

How to Apply Neosporin Ophthalmic Ointment

To apply Neosporin ophthalmic ointment, utilize the eyedropper included in the packaging. Apply every 3 to 4 hours for 7 to 10 days, depending on the condition and recommendations of your doctor.

Do not touch the surface of your eye with the tip of the dropper.

How to Get the Medication

Neosporin ophthalmic solution is considered a prescription-only drug, meaning it is not available over the counter. It is only available by prescription from a medical professional.

Side Effects

If your body reacts negatively to Neosporin ophthalmic solution, you may experience any of the following side effects:

  • Itching, reddening, or swelling of the eyelid or conjunctiva
  • Conjunctivitis 
  • Allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis in rare cases
  • Infection that doesn’t resolve

These symptoms generally end after stopping medication. If you experience side effects, avoid the ingredients in Neosporin ophthalmic solution in the future.

When to Call a Doctor

You’ll need to see a doctor in order to be prescribed Neosporin ophthalmic solution. Once you have a prescription, call your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms after using the medication:

  • Purulent discharge (a white, yellow, or brown fluid leaking from surrounding areas)
  • Inflammation
  • Irritation
  • Increased pain
  • Development of a rash
  • Allergic reaction

Can You Use Regular Neosporin Around or in the Eye?

While Neosporin ophthalmic solution is safe to use in and around the eye, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, regular Neosporin in the eye is not safe. In fact, it is toxic to the cornea, so it should never be used in or around your eyes.


  1. Neosporin Original Ointment Drug Facts. (September 2021). Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc.
  2. Neosporin Ophthalmic Ointment Sterile Indications and Usage. (August 2022). Pfizer, Inc. 
  3. Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye). (November 2021). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  4. What Is Bacterial Keratitis? (April 2022). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
  5. Keratoconjunctivitis. (May 2022). StatPearls.
  6. What is Blepharitis? (August 2022). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
  7. Blepharoconjunctivitis. (May 2022). StatPearls.
  8. Can You Put Regular Antibiotic Ointment, Such as Neosporin, in Your Eye to Treat a Scratched Cornea? (February 2022). American Academy of Ophthalmology.
  9. Common Eye Infections. (June 2018). Australian Prescriber. 
  10. Current and Emerging Topical Antibacterials and Antiseptics: Agents, Action, and Resistance Patterns. (July 2017). Clinical Microbiology Reviews.

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