By Dr S.S. Gill
Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us about how to instil eye drops correctly.
Most individuals would have had to instil eye drops or eye ointments into their eyes at some stage, more so if they suffer from dry eyes. Some patients may even have to instil 2 or sometimes 3 different kinds of eye drops as part of their daily routine because they suffer from more serious chronic eye conditions like glaucoma. Whatever the scenario is, knowing how to instil eye drops properly is actually more crucial than one may realise. Improper instilling of eye drops may result in contamination of the eye drops or worse still, the eye drops may not get into the eyes properly for it to work optimally. In such instances, a person may even end up losing their eyesight because it’s as good as not having any treatment since the eye drops were never instilled correctly into the eye.
SOME POINTS TO NOTE:
Always wash your hands before handling any eye drops and your eyes. This will minimise the risk of the eye drops getting contaminated and your eyes picking up an infection.
2. AVOID TOUCHING EYE DROP NOZZLE
Never touch the eye drop nozzle with your fingers. The nozzle of the eye drop should also never be allowed to come into contact with the eyelashes, eyelids or the eyes during instillation. To ensure that there is no accidental contamination, keep the eye drop nozzle slightly away from the eyes when instilling eye drops.
3. METHOD OF INSTILLATION
Tilt your head back as though you are looking at the ceiling. Pull the lower eyelid downwards to form a pocket to “catch” the drop. Then squeeze one drop of the medication into the eye. Keep the eyelids shut continuously for about 2-3 minutes to minimise spillage onto the eyelids and also to minimise the amount of eye drops that eventually get drained into the nose and throat (through the nasolacrimal duct that runs from the eyes into the nose) – which is the reason why you can taste the eye drops in your mouth. Avoid blinking the eyes repeatedly as this just quickly forces the eye drops to move into the nose and throat.
4. DO NOT INSTIL SEVERAL EYE DROPS ALL AT ONCE
Avoid instilling several eye drops all at once. It is advisable to wait approximately 10 minutes between each different eye drop in order to prevent “washout” as the eye can only take so much in one instillation. Of course, the longer you wait between instillation of separate kinds of eye drops the better although this may not be the most practical.
5. STORE EYE DROPS WELL
Keep all eye drops in a cool place. Refrigerating them is helpful but not all eye drops can be stored that way. Always follow the manufacturers advice when storing eye drops. Do not continue to use expired eye drops. Write down the date of opening an eye drop on the cover so you will not forget.
6. DO NOT SHARE EYE DROPS
Never share eye drops with another person. Every eye drop is specific for an individual’s eye condition. Sharing of eye drops increases the risk of contamination and cross-infection from one person to another.
7. GENERAL POINTERS
Keep all eye drops away from children and do not instil eye drops when you have contact lenses in your eyes unless instructed by the doctor. Always remove contact lenses first before instilling eye drops. Stop using an eye drop if you develop irritation or itchiness as you may be allergic to it. Seek professional help should this happen.