Reusing Old Eyedrops

Eye Health

Ipoh Echo’s EYE HEALTH series continues with Consultant Eye Surgeon Dr S.S. GILL talking to us regarding the problems of reusing old eyedrops.

Almost every one of us would have had to instil some eye drops at some point. Regardless of why you may need to use eyedrops, here are some points to take note of.


Firstly, every eyedrop will have an expiry date printed on its label. Do take note of this expiry date whenever you collect eyedrops from your pharmacist. Always purchase eyedrops from reputable pharmacies and not from online sales because it is hard to verify the product quality, sterility and labelling authenticity. There have been cases of expired eyedrops being resold online by unscrupulous people after re-labelling them.


If the eyedrops are not going to be used immediately because you have bought them in a bulk purchase for treatment of a chronic eye problem, then the unopened eyedrops should be stored in a cool place since exposure to excessive heat can easily alter the efficacy of the eyedrops. On picking up the eyedrops from the pharmacy, do not leave them in your car parked under the sun and continue on with your regular shopping. Eyedrops left in a heated car is as good as gone!


Once an eyedrop has been opened, it will last for a period of one month only, unless it has been bottled in a specially designed patented container where the manufacturer assures you of the sterility being maintained longer than a month. In general, every eyedrop bottle that has been opened has a shelf life of one month. Eyedrops beyond that period will generally lose its efficacy and potency. Eyedrops that have been opened a long time ago may easily get contaminated by bacteria resulting in serious consequences to the eye such as infections.


Expired eyedrops may undergo alteration in their composition making them unstable. Some salts or additives present in the eyedrop may become toxic to the eye surface due to a change in composition of the active and inactive ingredients. Additionally, such eyedrops may no longer work as efficaciously and this can be risky when the eyedrops have been used in the treatment of potentially blinding conditions like glaucoma.

Here are some additional pointers to take note of:

  1. HAND WASHING when handling eyedrops is a must!
  2. FOLLOW INSTRUCTIONS on the label with regards to storage and instillation.
  3. WHEN OPENING THE BOTTLE, never place the cap on a wet contaminated surface.
  4. INSTIL the eyedrops without the bottle tip touching the eyeball or eyelashes.
  5. MULTIPLE EYEDROP INSTILLATION, wait 10 minutes before instilling 2nd eyedrop.
  6. CONTACT LENSES must be avoided unless otherwise specified.
  7. NEVER BLINK EYES REPEATEDLY as this just forces the eyedrops into the nasolacrimal duct.
  8. DO NOT SHARE EYEDROPS as infection may spread to another person if the bottle is contaminated.
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