Fluoroquinolones: place in ocular therapy

Drugs. 2001;61(6):747-61. doi: 10.2165/00003495-200161060-00004.


The fluoroquinolones have become widely used antibacterial agents in the treatment of ocular infections, with topical, intravitreal and systemic routes of administration being used. In general, fluoroquinolones (such as ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin, lomefloxacin and norfloxacin) have good activity against gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. Therapeutic concentrations are achieved in the cornea after topical administration so that the fluoroqinolones have largely replaced combination therapy for the treatment of bacterial keratitis. However, a second line agent is needed when resistance is likely, such as in disease caused by streptococcal species. Reversal of resistance to quinolones may not occur with withdrawal of the antibacterial. This stresses the importance of prudent prescribing to reduce the occurrence of resistance to quinolones. When used in therapeutic topical dosages, corneal toxicity does not occur. Similarly, retinal toxicity is not seen when fluoroquinolones are used at therapeutic dosages, systemically or topically. Corneal precipitation occurs, particularly with ciprofloxacin and to a lesser extent norfloxacin, but does not appear to interfere with healing. In the treatment of endophthalmitis there is reasonable penetration of systemic fluoroquinolones into the vitreous but sufficiently high concentrations to reach the minimum inhibitory concentration for 90% of isolates (MIC90) of all important micro-organisms may not be guaranteed. Systemic administration may be useful for prophylaxis after ocular trauma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Conjunctivitis / drug therapy
  • Cornea / metabolism
  • Endophthalmitis / drug therapy
  • Eye Infections, Bacterial / drug therapy*
  • Fluoroquinolones
  • Humans
  • Keratitis / drug therapy


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Fluoroquinolones