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What is Idoxuridine?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 17, 2024
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Idoxuridine ophthalmic is a medication with antiviral properties, principally used in the treatment of eye infections resulting from some forms of the herpes virus. It may be sold under the trade name Herplex® or under certain generic names, which can vary by country. This medicine is available most in a liquid form that is administered via a dropper into one or both eyes where herpes virus is present. It may be the preferred treatment if herpes occurs in the eyes.

Specific dosage of idoxuridine depends on the patient and patient age. Dropper administration can be imprecise and people can put too much in the eyes fairly easily. Fortunately, this poses little problem, and an overdose, even by mouth, is unlikely to result in severe medical problems. The biggest caution when administering this medicine is to avoid contaminating the dropper, which might then create risk for infection in subsequent uses.

In most cases, the majority of patients can use idoxuridine, but there are a few groups that need to use care if this medication is considered. Pregnant and nursing women are advised not to use Herplex®. The medication shouldn’t be prescribed to those with fungal or bacterial eye infections concurrent with a herpes infection, as it may result in these conditions worsening. Another advisory exists for anyone who uses boric acid eye drops with idoxuridine because it may increase eye irritation.

As with any medication, there may be other contraindications or conflicts with other medications or conditions. Patients are best served by fully discussing medical history with doctors prior to using idoxuridine or any other drug. That discussion should include listing all medications taken, whether they are prescribed, over the counter, or in herbal or supplementary form.

Most drugs have side effects, and idoxuridine is not an exception. The rate of side effect occurrence depends on the individual. Some people will have more side effects than others, and other people have a few side effects that quickly decrease with usage.

One of the most noted reactions to idoxuridine is sensitivity to light. To manage this, people may want to use sunglasses in bright light. The eyes can also become irritated from medication use, and reports of itchy, red or swollen eyes aren’t uncommon. On the other hand, herpes infections in the eyes can cause significant irritation, so it’s not always clear that the medication results in these symptoms.

Some patients using idoxuridine notice transient changes in vision, especially reporting blurred or hazy vision. This is especially common right after the medicine is placed in the eyes, but for some people this sensation remains during treatment. A side effect that is even more rare is tearing of the eyes. Those using this medication are encouraged to report side effects to physicians if they become very difficult to manage, but most will use this medicine with few problems and it will usually effectively help resolve herpes eye infections.

WiseGEEK is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

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Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a WiseGEEK contributor, Tricia...
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