By Dr S.S. Gill
Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us about proper ways to use eye drops.
In today’s world, almost everyone has had to use some form of eye drops at sometime or the other. The handling of eye drops is of paramount importance when applying any eye drops that have been prescribed by a doctor.
Here are some pointers to take note of when using eye drops:
1. KNOW THE EYE DROPS THAT YOU ARE USING
Firstly, avoid purchasing any form of eye drops over the counter (OTC) unless they are lubricant eye drops or artificial tears. Purchasing medicated eye drops like those containing steroids must be avoided. In many countries, steroid eye drops cannot be bought over the counter from a pharmacy. However, in Malaysia there are no stringent laws and so a patient is able to purchase steroid eye drops over the counter without any prescription. This is dangerous because eye drops like these, when used indiscriminately without a prescription, can cause serious problems like worsening of corneal infections, glaucoma, early cataract formation and even blindness if used long term without supervision. A steroid eye drop should only be used when it has been prescribed by a physician or eye doctor who is able to monitor your eyes when you are using such steroid eye drops.
2. HAND WASHING
Always make it a point to wash your hands before handling any kind of eye drops. This is to ensure that you do not pick up any infection from handling your eyes and/or contaminating the eye drops that you are using.
3. KEEPING THE BOTTLE NOZZLE CLEAN
Ensure that the bottle tip or nozzle does not touch your fingers or eyelids or eyelashes. Should this ever happen, it may result in organisms getting into the bottle and contaminating it. It would be best to discard the eye drop bottle if there is any doubt regarding this. Also, remember to discard the eye drops if they are more than one month old unless specified by your physician.
4. DO NOT WEAR CONTACT LENSES WHEN USING EYE DROPS
Instilling eye drops into eyes with contact lenses on should be avoided unless they are preservative-free eye drops or eye drops meant for contact lens wear. Contact lenses absorb medication in the eye drops and can cause long term effects on the surface of the eye or cornea.
5. DO NOT SHARE EYE DROPS
This is a big “NO”. Never let anyone use your eye drops and never share someone else’s eye drops. Infections can spread from one person to the other especially if the eye drops have been contaminated. Also, many of these eye drops are prescription eye drops that can only be used for specific conditions.
6. INFORM YOUR DOCTOR IF THERE ARE PROBLEMS
Make it a point to inform your doctor if you get a red eye, eye pain or swelling after using eye drops. Such symptoms may be indicative of an allergy to the eye drops.
7. HAVING A TASTE IN THE MOUTH
It is common to have an after taste in the mouth after instilling eye drops as all eye drops like our tears, get drained into the nose through a duct called the nasolacrimal duct. Should you find a bitter taste in the mouth, do not be alarmed. In order to reduce the drainage process, keep the eyes closed for about two to three minutes or apply pressure on the tear duct to reduce the drainage.
KEEP EYE DROPS AWAY FROM KIDS
Remember to keep all eye drops away from children. Eye drops may have undesirable side effects should they be swallowed by a toddler.