Whether you use eye drops to soothe dry eyes or as medication, Gabriel Hulewsky, OD, an optometrist at John A. Moran Eye Center, has advice on how to get and keep those drops in your eyes.
“Eye drops can offer great relief and help with healing, but some people are hesitant about getting them in correctly,” says Hulewsky, who specializes in dry eye, contact lenses, and sports vision. “It can also get a little complicated if you need a few different types of drops for an eye condition or after surgery.”
Technique: Ready, aim, drop
Follow these tips to ensure the protection of your eyes:
- Wash your hands before you start.
- Tilt your head back and focus on something in the background beyond the tip of the bottle or dropper.
- Pull your lower lid down with your free hand.
- Keeping the bottle tip about one inch from your eye to avoid introducing bacteria, squeeze out one drop.
- When the drop hits your eye, close your eye and use your finger to press lightly on the inner corner of your eyelid, next to your nose. This keeps the drop in place.
Other tips to follow
To get the full benefit of the eye drop, try not to blink after it has gone in. Don’t worry if you lose some of the drops; it gets easier with practice. If you feel like you missed getting the drop in your eye, it’s OK to try again. Ask for help if you cannot get the drops in by yourself.
If you have more than one eye drop
Wait three to five minutes between different types of drops if you’re taking more than one.
If you wear contacts
If using medicated drops with contact lenses, take the contacts out and leave them out for about 10 minutes after using the drop. If using lubricating drops with contacts, you can leave your lenses in, but make sure the drops are preservative-free or labeled as rewetting drops.
Keep it Safe
- Don’t share drops to avoid any cross-contamination or mix-ups. If you’re sharing a medicine cabinet, mark your drops with colored tape or store them separately.
- Follow your doctor’s directions about when and how to use prescription eye drops.
- Moisturizing eye drops feel great on your eyes when you apply them straight from the refrigerator, and it’s OK to keep them there. But ask your doctor if keeping your prescription drops in the fridge is OK.
- Check expiration dates. Most drops are not effective after they’ve expired.
- If you’re experiencing eye irritation—whether from allergies, dry eyes, or sunburn for more than a few days—and it’s affecting your vision, see your eye doctor immediately.