Eye Drops 101
Eye drops are the mainstay for treating eye disease. However, they only work if they get on your eye! Learning how to put in eye drops correctly and safely will ensure that you treat your eye problem as best as possible.
Here are some tips for effective eye drop administration:
- Make sure to first wash your hands before putting in the eye drops
- If you have crusting around your eyes, first clean the eyelashes with a warm wash cloth
- Always check the label on the eye drop to ensure that it is the correct drop and being administered to the proper eye
These are some steps to provide a safe application of the drop:
- After removing the eye drop cap, lay it on its side to avoid contaminating the inner surface
- Be careful not to touch the end of the dropper to your hand, eyelid, eyelashes or eye. If the tip of the bottle becomes contaminated, you can clean it with a sterile cloth or alcohol pad
- Place the back of your thumb against your forehead and avoid pointing your fingernails towards the eye
- Tilt your head backwards and look at a point on the ceiling
- Keep both eyes open to avoid blinking
- Gently pull down on the lower eyelid to create a pocket for the drop
- Then, position the tip of the bottle so that it does not touch the eye
- Squeeze the bottle to allow one drop to exit
- Gently and slowly close your eyes. Blot off any excess liquid with a tissue
- With your eyes closed, you may also apply pressure to the inner corner of the eye where it meets the nose for at least 30 seconds. This helps to keep the eye drops on the surface of the eye longer and reduce absorption into the rest of your body, lowering the potential for side effects.
If you are still having difficulty with your eye drops, you can try this method:
- With your head turned to the side or lying on your side, close your eyes
- Place a drop in the inner corner of your eyelid (the side closest to the bridge of your nose)
- By opening your eyes slowly, the drop should fall right into your eye
Some other tips:
- If you are using eye ointment, it can be administered in a similar manner to the drops. When you blink, the ointment will coat the surface of the eye. Ointment should be administered after any drops, since it will create a barrier to further drop administration.
- Do not leave your eye drops in direct sunlight
- Consult with your pharmacist to ensure that your drops do not need refrigeration. In addition, you may try refrigerating your drops, since this can often help with burning and irritation upon administration
- If you’ve never put in drops before, ask a nurse, technician, or doctor to ensure you are using a good technique
- If you have other people at home, it may be helpful to have them assist you in administering your drops. They can also help remind you to put them in at the correct time.
- You may find it easier to put in drops in front of a mirror or lying flat on your back
- Make sure to give yourself at least 5 minutes between each drop to not wash one out with the next drop
- Each eye drop is several times larger than the eye can handle, therefore it is never necessary to administer more than one eye drop and it is normal to experience some liquid falling down on the cheek after putting in a single drop. The sensation of an eye drop coming out does not mean that you missed and need another drop.
- If your hands are shaking, you can try to approach your eye from the side to allow your hand to rest on your face. You may also use a 1-2 pound wrist weight to decrease mild shaking.
- If you experience difficulty holding onto the bottle or feel it is too small, you can wrap it in a paper towel to provide more bulk
- It’s very easy to forget your eye drops, but they only work if you get them in! Try to use a reminder system that works well for you. Try to take your drops with other medications or time it with other daily activities to help “cue” yourself.
As always, if you have any questions regarding your drops or how to use them, please contact our office!
Eye Consultants of Northern Virginia, PC
Posted by BENJAMIN ABRAMOWITZ, MD