12.10 Eye Prophylaxis for Newborn (Erythromycin)

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Included In This Lesson

Study Tools



  1. Given to protect from neonatal conjunctivitis or ophthalmia neonatorum caused by chlamydia or gonorrhea

Nursing Points


  1. Required by law in US
    1. Parents have the right to refuse
  2. These conditions are transmitted to newborn in birth canal by mother infected with gonorrhea or chlamydia
  3. If not treated, can ultimately cause blindness


  1. Assess eyes for redness or drainage

Therapeutic Management

  1. Give by 1 hours of life
  2. Open eyes
  3. Apply ointment from inner canthus to outer
  4. Don’t wipe off, will absorb

Nursing Concepts

  1. Pharmacology
  2. Infection control

Patient Education

  1. Educate mother/support system about this before you apply
  2. Educate mother/support system not to wipe it off
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In this lesson I will help you understand the use of eye prophylaxis for the newborn and your role in this care.

Eye prophylaxis is given after delivery and is required by law in US. Parents can always refuse but it is mandated by the states. Transmission occurs from the newborn passing through the birth canal of a mother infected with gonorrhea or chlamydia. This causes conjunctivitis that can even lead to blindness If not treated. So this treatment is erythromycin eye ointment that is given to every newborn at delivery.

Assessment will be to check eyes for redness or drainage which would be signs of infection. The management will be administering the eye prophylaxis. This should be given by 1 hour of life by opening eyes and applying the ointment from the inner canthus to outer. And we don’t want to wipe it off, it will absorb.

Education will be for the parents on why we are applying this and then also to not wipe it off.
Pharmacology and infection control are the nursing concepts because this medication will hopefully prevent infection.
Eye ointment is an antibiotic, typically erythromycin. It is given prophylactically and protects the eyes from conjunctivitis and blindness that can be caused by chlamydia and gonorrhea as the newborn passes through the birth canal.

Make sure you check out the resources attached to this lesson and review the key points. Now, go out and be your best selves today. And, as always, happy nursing.

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