The Dry Eye Zone

Rebecca's Blog


Oral azythromycin vs doxycycline for MGD


The results in this study appear very strongly in favor of topical azithromycin. Makes me wonder what I’m missing! But meantime I’m thinking of all the people i know who get gastric side effects from doxycycline. What do you think? Is a short one-two punch of azithro better than the long drawn out doxy?

Oral azithromycin and oral doxycycline for the treatment of Meibomian gland dysfunction: A 9-month comparative case series.

De Benedetti et al, Indian Journal of Ophthalmology, April 2019



To compare the efficacy and safety profile of oral azithromycin with that of doxycycline over 9 months in patients experiencing failure with conservative and topical treatment for Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), to assess recurrence of MGD, and to determine the number of treatments required.


This is a randomized controlled trial with a cross-over design at a tertiary care center. In all, 115 consecutive patients underwent a complete ophthalmological examination before being randomly assigned to oral treatment with doxycline (4 g for 30 days) or azithromycin (1.25 g for 5 days). Patients were evaluated at 3, 6, and 9 months. Therapy was switched or conservative management maintained according to signs and symptoms.


In the azithromycin group, 83.25% of the patients were stable after one treatment, 16.5% needed a further one or two treatments (some had previously been switched to doxycycline), and 5.77% did not improve despite treatment. In the doxycycline group, 33.79% of patients were stable after one treatment, 66.21% needed a further one or two treatments (some had previously switched to azithromycin), and 29.41% did not improve despite treatment (P < 0.05). Minimal gastrointestinal adverse effects (nausea, diarrhea, abdominal cramp, and decreased appetite) were reported, mostly unchanged at the follow-up visits. At the first visit, more adverse effects were reported in the doxycycline group (14/51, 24%) than in the azithromycin group (3/52, 6%; P < 0.005).


Both antibiotics were effective and safe for treating patients with persistent MGD, although azithromycin was superior when the reduced dose and the shorter course of therapy (5 days vs. 4 weeks) were taken into consideration. Given the chronic nature of the disease and the improvement in some signs with minimal adverse effects, a shorter therapy seems a safer and more logical alternative to longer regimens.