Tetracycline Therapy

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Many eye conditions respond to treatment with anti-inflammatory medicines.

Doxycycline and tetracycline.

Doxycycline tablets and tetracycline ointment are well-recognized treatments for certain forms of eyelid margin disease and tear dysfunction.

Usually considered antibiotics, both drugs work by decreasing eyelid inflammation and improving the quality of the secretions produced by the eyelid oil glands.

It is normal to use the drugs for three months and it may need to be used in pulses of three months every few years.

Doxycycline tablets are available from Chemists. Dr McKellar imports tetracycline ointment for his patients. It is licenced for use in New Zealand. Although one of the most widely used drugs in the World, the number of New Zealand patients needing tetracycline is low and thus no company imports and distributes the drug.

Side Effects

All drugs can cause side effects. What follows is a list of the important side effects than can occur when taking Doxycycline and Tetracycline. Significant side effects are rare, particularly with ointment therapy. If you have any concerns please discuss the issue further with Dr McKellar.

  • Stomach and bowel upsets. Mild stomach upsets and change in bowel habit are common. These side effects usually only last a few days. For this reason take one tablet on alternate days until your body becomes accustomed to the drug. Some patients develop heart burn or ‘reflux’
  • Photosensitivity. It is easier to sunburn while taking this drug. Be extra vigilant with sun protection
  • Oral contraception, pregnancy and breast-feeding. Antibiotics can interfere with oral contraceptives. Women relying on oral contraception should also use a barrier contraceptive. It is critical that women do not fall pregnant or breastfeed while taking Doxycycline. Doxycycline can affect the developing foetus and infant. The most common effect is lifelong discolouration of the teeth.
  • Thrush. It is unusual for this antibiotic to cause thrush
  • Interactions with other medications can occur. Please let Dr McKellar know if you are taking blood thinners such as warfarin, penicillin, strong sedatives or anti-epileptic drugs. Wait for two hours before taking antacids, calcium or iron tablets
  • Severe adverse reactions. Severe reactions to Doxycycline and Tetracycline therapy are very rare. If you develop a rash, severe abdominal pain or severe headache please stop therapy and inform Dr McKellar immediately
  • Breast cancer. There is evidence that all antibiotic use is associated with an increased incidence of breast cancer but it is unclear whether this is a causal relationship
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