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Cetirizine (Ophthalmic)

Generic name: cetirizine ophthalmic

Brand names: Zerviate


Mechanism of Action

Selective histamine H1-receptor antagonist for topical ophthalmic use.


Half-Life Elimination

~8 hours

Use: Labeled Indications

Allergic conjunctivitis: Treatment of ocular itching associated with allergic conjunctivitis.


There are no contraindications listed in the manufacturer's labeling.

Dosage and Administration

Dosing: Adult

Allergic conjunctivitis: Ophthalmic: Instill 1 drop in affected eye(s) twice daily (~8 hours apart).

Dosing: Geriatric

Refer to adult dosing.

Dosing: Pediatric

Allergic conjunctivitis: Ophthalmic: Children ≥2 years and Adolescents: Refer to adult dosing.


For topical ophthalmic use only. Wash hands before use. Do not touch dropper tip to eyelids, surrounding areas, or any surface. Remove contact lenses prior to administration. After instilling drops, wait at least 10 minutes before inserting contact lenses. Do not wear contacts lenses if eyes are red.


Store at 15°C to 25°C (59°F to 77°F).

Drug Interactions

There are no known significant interactions.

Adverse Reactions

1% to 10%:

Local: Local pain (instillation site)

Ophthalmic: Decreased visual acuity, ocular hyperemia


Special populations:

  • Contact lens wearers: Contains benzalkonium chloride, which may be absorbed by contact lenses; remove lenses prior to administration and wait 10 minutes before reinserting. Not for the treatment of contact lens irritation; do not wear contact lenses if eyes are red.

Other warnings/precautions:

  • Appropriate use: For topical ophthalmic use only. To avoid eye injury and contamination, do not touch dropper tip to eyelids, surrounding area, or any surface.


Pregnancy Considerations

Adverse events were not observed in animal reproduction studies. The amount of cetirizine absorbed systemically following ophthalmic administration is significantly less than when administered orally. If ophthalmic agents are needed during pregnancy, the minimum effective dose should be used in combination with punctal occlusion to decrease potential exposure to the fetus (Samples 1988).

Refer to the Cetirizine (Systemic) monograph for additional information.

Patient Education

  • Discuss specific use of drug and side effects with patient as it relates to treatment. (HCAHPS: During this hospital stay, were you given any medicine that you had not taken before? Before giving you any new medicine, how often did hospital staff tell you what the medicine was for? How often did hospital staff describe possible side effects in a way you could understand?)
  • Patient may experience eye redness. Have patient report immediately to prescriber vision changes, eye pain, or severe eye irritation (HCAHPS).
  • Educate patient about signs of a significant reaction (eg, wheezing; chest tightness; fever; itching; bad cough; blue skin color; seizures; or swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat). Note: This is not a comprehensive list of all side effects. Patient should consult prescriber for additional questions.

Intended Use and Disclaimer: Should not be printed and given to patients. This information is intended to serve as a concise initial reference for health care professionals to use when discussing medications with a patient. You must ultimately rely on your own discretion, experience, and judgment in diagnosing, treating, and advising patients.

Source: Wolters Kluwer Health. Last updated August 30, 2019.