Fluorescein (medical use)

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Fluorescin in dropper.jpg
Fluorescein drops being put in the eye before examination
Trade namesFluorescite, AK-Fluor, BioGlo, others
  • 3',6'-dihydroxyspiro[2-benzofuran-3,9'-xanthene]-1-one
Clinical data
Drug classDiagnostic agent
Routes of
Eye drops, intravenous, by mouth
Defined daily dosenot established[1]
License data
Legal status
  • UK: POM (Prescription only) [2]
  • US: ℞-only
  • In general: ℞ (Prescription only)
Chemical and physical data
Molar mass332.311 g·mol−1
3D model (JSmol)
  • C1=CC=C2C(=C1)C(=O)OC23C4=C(C=C(C=C4)O)OC5=C3C=CC(=C5)O
  • InChI=1S/C20H12O5/c21-11-5-7-15-17(9-11)24-18-10-12(22)6-8-16(18)20(15)14-4-2-1-3-13(14)19(23)25-20/h1-10,21-22H

Fluorescein is used to help in the diagnosis of a number of eye problems.[3] When applied as a drop or within a strip of paper to the surface of the eye it is used to help detect eye injuries such as foreign bodies and corneal abrasions.[4][5] When given by mouth or injection into a vein it is used to help evaluate the blood vessels in the back of the eye during fluorescein angiography.[3][6]

When applied to the surface of the eye side effects may include a brief period of blurry vision and discoloration of contact lenses of the soft type.[7][3] When used by mouth or injection side effects may include headache, nausea, and a change to the color of the skin for a brief period of time.[3] Allergic reactions may rarely occur.[3] Fluorescein is a dye which is taken up by damaged cornea such that the area appears green under cobalt blue light.[3] There is also a version that comes premixed with lidocaine.[4][8]

Fluorescein was first made in 1871.[9] It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines.[10] The wholesale cost in the developing world is about US$12.25 per 5 ml bottle.[11] In the United Kingdom a single dose costs the NHS about 0.43 pounds.[4] It is also not very expensive in the United States.[5]

Medical uses


The defined daily dose is not established[1]

Brand names

It is also sold as a combination drug with oxybuprocaine under the brand name Altafluor Benox.[12][13]

Other animals

It is also sometimes administered to pets in multi-pet environments to determine which pet needs behavioral modification.[citation needed]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "WHOCC - ATC/DDD Index". www.whocc.no. Retrieved 12 September 2020.
  2. "Fluorescein sodium 100 mg/ml, solution for injection - Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC)". (emc). 16 January 2018. Retrieved 11 March 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Duvall, Brian; Kershner, Robert M. (2006). Ophthalmic Medications and Pharmacology. SLACK Incorporated. p. 29. ISBN 9781556427503. Archived from the original on 18 January 2017.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 British national formulary : BNF 69 (69 ed.). British Medical Association. 2015. pp. 769, 772. ISBN 9780857111562.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Hamilton, Richart (2015). Tarascon Pocket Pharmacopoeia 2015 Deluxe Lab-Coat Edition. Jones & Bartlett Learning. p. 416. ISBN 9781284057560.
  6. "Anatera 100mg/ml solution for injection - Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC)". (emc). 10 February 2020. Retrieved 11 March 2020.
  7. World Health Organization (2009). Stuart MC, Kouimtzi M, Hill SR (eds.). WHO Model Formulary 2008. World Health Organization. p. 314. hdl:10665/44053. ISBN 9789241547659.
  8. "Minims Lidocaine & Fluorescein Summary of Product Characteristics (SmPC) - (emc)". (emc). 23 October 2017. Retrieved 11 March 2020.
  9. Bartlett, Jimmy D.; Jaanus, Siret D. (2008). Clinical Ocular Pharmacology. Elsevier Health Sciences. p. 283. ISBN 0750675764. Archived from the original on 18 January 2017.
  10. World Health Organization (2019). World Health Organization model list of essential medicines: 21st list 2019. Geneva: World Health Organization. hdl:10665/325771. WHO/MVP/EMP/IAU/2019.06. License: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 IGO.
  11. "Fluorescein". International Drug Price Indicator Guide. Retrieved 8 December 2016.
  12. "Drug Approval Package: Altafluor Benox (fluorescein sodium and benoxinate hydrochloride ophthalmic solution)". U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 9 April 2018. Retrieved 11 March 2020.
  13. "Altafluor- fluorescein sodium and benoxinate hydrochloride solution". DailyMed. 4 December 2017. Retrieved 10 March 2020.

External links