Handling Eye Drops

Eye Health

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 HANDLE & INSTIL EYE DROPS CORRECTLY.

Chances are, every one of us would have had to instil eye drops into our eyes at some point of our lives. There are those fortunate few who may have had to use them only briefly for a couple of days at a time, while there are the ones that are not so lucky who may have to be instilling eye drops frequently for chronic diseases like glaucoma or dry eyes. Worst still are those who are forced to apply multiple eye drops several times a day! Well, regardless of whether you have to instil eye drops once in awhile or several times a day for years together, it is important to know how to handle them properly. Here are some pointers:


Ensure your hands are washed before handling eye drops. This reduces chances of contamination of the eye drops or getting the eyes infected.


Some eye drops may need to be shaken before application. Some eye drops may need to be refrigerated. Whatever they may be, always follow the instructions given.


After opening the bottle cap, place it on its side on a clean tissue or surface. Never place the cap with the neck flat on the surface to avoid contamination.


Tilt your head backwards or if you have neck problems, lie flat on a couch or bed. Some people find it easier if instilled in front of the mirror. Then, look at a point on the ceiling and pull your lower eyelid down to form a pocket or pouch for the eye drops to go into. Make sure that the tip of the eye drop bottle does not touch the eyelashes or go so near the eye so as to touch the eyeball. Squeeze the bottle gently until a drop or two gets expressed out.


Never squeeze the eyes or blink repeatedly as this just forces the eye drops out of the eye or into the nasolacrimal duct (the duct between the eye and nose) or to just trickle out of the eye. Keep your eyes closed for at least 1-2 minutes. Blot out excess eye drops from the eyes gently using a clean tissue, avoiding sticking the tissue into the corners of the eyes.


If you have to instil another second or third eye drop medication, always wait for at least 10 minutes before instilling the next eye drop.


Do not wear contact lenses when instilling eye drops unless otherwise specified. When recapping the eye drop bottle, make sure you do it carefully and avoid touching the bottle tip with your finger as this will contaminate the bottle! Do not share your eye drops with another person even if it’s your spouse! If you develop any itching or swelling after using the eye drops, stop further instillation and inform your doctor. If you are unsure about how to handle or instil your eye drops, check with your eye doctor or eye nurse.

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