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Date of issue: May 2016
Version: 2

This is a UKTIS monograph for use by health care professionals. For case-specific advice please contact UKTIS on 0344 892 0909. To report an exposure please download and complete a pregnancy reporting form. Please encourage all women to complete an online reporting form.


Eye drops are used to administer medication to the eye and, depending on the condition being treated, may contain steroids, antibiotics, antihistamines, sympathomimetics, prostaglandins, beta-adrenoceptor blocking drugs, parasympathomimetics, parasympatholytics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or topical anaesthetics.

There are few published data on the potential fetotoxic effects of topical ophthalmic medications in human pregnancy. Pharmacokinetic data on the systemic absorption of individual preparations are also lacking. However, many of the drugs found in eye drops are administered systemically in pregnancy without any evidence of an increased risk of congenital malformation or other adverse pregnancy outcome in the offspring above background rates in the general population. Although it is therefore unlikely that ocular administration of such drugs will be associated with an increased risk of fetal toxicity if the dose used does not exceed that of systemic regimes, medications which have known fetal effects following systemic use should be used with caution as some systemic absorption of ocular preparations is likely. Where ocular use of a potentially teratogenic preparation is considered necessary in pregnancy, discussion with the patient should include both the risks of not treating the condition as well as any known or theoretical risks to the fetus.

Exposure to topical ophthalmic medications at any stage in pregnancy would not usually be regarded as medical grounds for termination of pregnancy. The need for additional fetal monitoring should be assessed based on the specific medication. Other risk factors which independently increase the risk of adverse pregnancy outcome may also be present in individual cases. Clinicians are reminded of the importance of consideration of such factors when performing case-specific risk assessments.

Please refer to the UKTIS monograph for each specific medication where available.

This document is regularly reviewed and updated. Only use full UKTIS monographs downloaded directly from to be sure you are using the most up-to-date version. The summaries of these monographs are openly available on

This is a summary of the full UKTIS monograph for health care professionals and should not be used in isolation. The full UKTIS monograph and access to any hyperlinked related documents is available to health care professionals at

If you have a patient with exposure to a drug or chemical and require assistance in making a patient-specific risk assessment, please telephone UKTIS on 0344 892 0909 to discuss the case with a teratology specialist.

If you would like to report a pregnancy to UKTIS please click here to download our pregnancy reporting form. Please encourage all women to complete an online reporting form.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that this monograph was accurate and up-to-date at the time of writing, however it cannot cover every eventuality and the information providers cannot be held responsible for any adverse outcomes of the measures recommended. The final decision regarding which treatment is used for an individual patient remains the clinical responsibility of the prescriber. This material may be freely reproduced for education and not for profit purposes within the UK National Health Service, however no linking to this website or reproduction by or for commercial organisations is permitted without the express written permission of this service. This document is regularly reviewed and updated. Only use UKTIS monographs downloaded directly from or to ensure you are using the most up-to-date version.