tetracaine (ophthalmic drops)

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

What is tetracaine ophthalmic drops, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Tetracaine is a topical local anesthetic for the eyes. Tetracaine works by interfering with entry of sodium ions into nerve cells. This reduces the ability of nerves to generate an impulse and send pain sensations.

What brand names are available for tetracaine ophthalmic drops?


Is tetracaine ophthalmic drops available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for tetracaine ophthalmic drops?


What are the side effects of tetracaine ophthalmic drops?

Side effects of tetracaine are:

  • drowsiness,
  • stinging eyes,
  • burning eyes,
  • redness, and
  • hypersensitivity reactions.

What is the dosage for tetracaine ophthalmic drops?

  • For tonometry and other short procedures: Instill 1 to 2 drops in the eye(s) just prior to evaluation.
  • For minor surgical procedures, such as foreign body or suture removal: Instill 1 to 2 drops in the eye(s) every 5 to 10 minutes for 1 to 3 instillations.
  • For prolonged anesthesia, such as cataract extraction: Instill 1 to 2 drops in the eye(s) every 5 to 10 minutes for 3 to 5 doses.

Which drugs or supplements interact with tetracaine ophthalmic drops?

: No drug interactions are listed for tetracaine eye drops.

Is tetracaine ophthalmic drops safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?

There are no adequate studies of tetracaine in women to determine safe and effective use in pregnant women.

It is not known whether tetracaine enters breast milk; therefore, it is best to be cautious before using it in women who are nursing.

What else should I know about tetracaine ophthalmic drops?

What preparations of tetracaine ophthalmic drops are available?

Tetracaine is available as 0.5% sterile eye drops in 15 ml dispensers.

How should I keep tetracaine ophthalmic drops stored?

Tetracaine eye drops are stored between 15 C and 25 C (59 and 77 F), in tightly closed containers.


Tetracaine (ophthalmic drops) is prescribed as a local anesthetic prior to eye procedures such as gonioscopy, tonometry, and other eye procedures. Side effects, drug interactions, dosage, storage, and pregnancy safety information should be reviewed prior to using this medication.

Treatment & Diagnosis

Medications & Supplements

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Medically reviewed by Eni Williams, PharmD., Ph.D.


DailyMed.gov. TETRAVISC FORTE (tetracaine hydrochloride) liquid.

Medscape. tetracaine (Rx) - Tetcaine, tetracaine ophthalmic.