How to put drops in the eye
The IGA has produced a series of short films based on the presentations that we provide to patient support groups throughout the country. You will find information on why drops are important, different techniques to take drops and the aids that are available to help. Click on the links below.
Alternatively, the information below may help you decide on a way to put in the drops and what suits you best.
Before your begin
Make sure your hands are washed and clean. Some drops need to be shaken. If that applies to yours - it shuld say on the bottle or in the leaflet that comes with it - rememver to shake the bottle eacht time you use it.
Putting drops in the eye
One of the simplest is to sit or stand in front of a mirror, pull down the lower lid with a finger of one hand, squeeze or tap the bottle according to instructions with the other hand, and let the drop fall into the pocket between the eye and the lid.
Another method is to tilt your head backwards while sitting, standing or lying down. If your drops are gel and not liquid, it may be easier to lie down in order to spread the gel along the inside of the lower lid.
Closing the eye for the drop to absorb
After putting the drop in your eye, close your eye and gently press on the inside corner with a finger for one or two minutes. This will help to slow the rate at which drops drain out through the tear duct into your system, so that it stays in the eye where it is needed.
A small amount may, even then, drain through the tear duct and be swallowed. This is not usually harmful but, if the amount of eye drops entering your body through the tear duct is minimised, so too is the potential for side-effect problems.
Taking a second drop
Wait at least five minutes, or however long you have been advised, before putting in any other kind of drop to prevent the first one being washed away by the second drop. If you use contact lenses, never put a drop in your eye while wearing a lens and allow 15 minutes after using your drops before inserting a lens.
Getting into the routine
Eye drops will help to keep the pressure in your eye from getting too high. It is essential to use your eye drops regularly as prescribed if you want to preserve your eyesight. It is worth getting into a routine and sticking to it. For instance, unless the bottle needs to be stored in the fridge, you could keep it by your toothbrush so you are reminded when you brush your teeth. Some people find it helpful to make a chart with the days of the week on it where they can tick off every time they use their drops. If you use a drop more than once a day, try to ensure the times when you put them in are evenly spaced. For example, if they go in twice a day, aim for 12 hours apart. The most important thing, though, is to settle on a routine you can manage and remember every day.
Most drops are stored at ordinary room temperature but some need to be kept in a refrigerator before they are opened. Look at the leaflet that comes with your drops or check with your pharmacist.
Don’t continue to use a bottle for more than a month after it has been opened. Start a new one. The safest way to dispose of old bottles is to return them to your pharmacist.
If you have difficulty knowing whether a drop has gone into your eye, you can try keeping the bottle in the door of a refrigerator (not the freezer). You will then feel the coldness of the drop going into your eye. However, be sure to check in the patient information leaflet or with your pharmacist that your drops can safely be stored this way.
Sometimes you might need to keep your drops cool when the weather is hot, for instance if you are travelling or out for the day. The IGA has cool wallets, available to purchase, that prevent your drops from becoming warm for up to 45 hours. They contain gel crystals which only require soaking in water (no refrigeration) to reactivate it.
There is a large wallet that holds up to four eye-drop bottles or 30 single-dose vials, and a small wallet that takes a single bottle or 10 single-dose vials.
- Follow your clinician’s instructions. Take your medication on time every time.
- Always wash your hands before using your eye drop bottles.
- Eye drop dispensers are for individual use. They are personal items which shouldn’t be shared between patients to avoid any contamination.
- Wash your dispenser regularly in warm soapy water.
- To avoid contamination, never touch the nozzle of the dropper bottle and avoid contact with the eye.
- After putting in a drop, close your eye gently and press softly on the inside corner with a finger for one or two minutes. Then wait five minutes, or according to medical advice, before instilling any further drop, to prevent the first being washed away.
- Never use drops after the expiry date printed on the packaging. Discard a bottle of eye drops four weeks after opening and start a new one. Single dose preservative-free phials should be used once only and discarded.
- Hand in any unused or expired medicines to your local pharmacist.
- If you use soft contact lenses, remove them before instilling eye drops and wait at least 15 minutes before re-inserting them.
- Store eye drops and all medicines out of the reach and sight of children and out of direct sunlight.
- Keep eye drops in the door of the refrigerator (not the freezer) so you can feel them go into your eye more easily (but check the information leaflet or ask your pharmacist to find out whether your drops can be stored in the refrigerator).
If you sometimes forget your medication:
- Create a chart with the days of the week so that each drop can be ticked off.
- Establish a routine and stick to it. For example, it might help to put your drops by your toothbrush so that you remember to put them in after you brush your teeth.
If you use more than one kind of drop:
- Use drops in the same order each time, for example by colour or by bottle size, to reduce the possibility of making a mistake.
- If you have difficulty telling the different bottles apart, use elastic bands around the bottles to distinguish them.
If you experience any problems with putting your eye drops in, there are compliance aids available to help you. For further information, please contact the IGA Sightline and ask for the leaflet ‘Eye Drops and Dispensing Aids' which gives information and advice on the different drops and their side effects, or ask the staff at your eye clinic.