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WebMD on How to Use Eye Drops and Ointments

By editor
August 31, 2014

Many eye problems are treated with eyedrops or eye ointments, and sometimes with both. Most people know to use medications only as directed by a doctor, store them properly following instructions on the label, and not to use expired medications. Even though drops and ointments are widely used, many people don't know the best way to put them in.

Take these SAFETY precautions when you use eyedrops or eye ointments:
• Wash your hands well before and after you insert the drops or ointment. If you have disposable medical gloves, wear them when you put eyedrops or eye ointments into someone else's eyes. Even if you wore gloves, wash your hands afterward.
• Be sure the dropper or tube is clean and does not touch the eye, eyelid, lashes, or any surface. This is to keep it free from bacteria. Eyedrops or ointments that get bacteria in them can easily spread the bacteria to the eye and cause an infection.
• If the dropper is separate from the bottle and touches the eye, do not put the dropper back in the bottle. Buy a new dropper at a drugstore.
• Do not use anyone else's drops or ointment.
• If you have an eye infection, do not wear contact lenses while you are using eyedrops or eye ointments unless your doctor has told you it is okay.

Sometimes eyedrops and eye ointments sting when you first put them in. But the stinging should go away after a few moments. When you put the medicine in your eye, you may also get a taste from it in your mouth. Or you may feel the drops in your nose, and some of the medicine may come out through your nose. These things are normal and will go away.

Some common problems treated with eyedrops or eye ointments include:
• Dry eyes. Over-the-counter artificial tears can help to treat dry eyes.
• Pinkeye (conjunctivitis). Your doctor may prescribe eyedrops or ointment to treat this problem.
• Allergies. Eyedrops that have an antihistamine, an anti-inflammatory, or adecongestant can be used to treat allergies. These medicines may not be safe for young children or for people who have certain health problems. Before you use these medicines, check the label.
• Glaucoma. Treatment for this vision problem may include eyedrops that lower the pressure inside the eye.
• Iritis. This inflammation of the colored part of the eye is treated with medicine given as eyedrops.

To use eyedrops, follow these tips:
• For older children and adults: While tilting your head back, pull the lower eyelid down with one or two fingers to create a small pouch. Gently squeeze the dropper to put 1 to 2 eyedrops (or the number of drops your doctor told you) in the pouch. Close the eye for 30 to 60 seconds to let the drops absorb.
• For younger children: Have the child lie down with the eyes closed. Place an eyedrop in the inner corner of the closed eye. When the eye opens, the drop will run in.
• If you are putting more than 1 drop in your eye, wait at least 5 minutes between eyedrops. This helps prevent flushing away or diluting the first drop.
See a picture of how to use eyedrops (http://www.webmd.com/eye-health/eyedrops)
If you are using both eyedrops and eye ointment, put the eyedrop in at least 10 minutes before the ointment.
Eye ointment
The method for inserting eye ointment is slightly different than for inserting eyedrops. When using eye ointments, follow these tips:
• For older children and adults: Pull the lower eyelid down with one or two fingers to create a pouch. Put a thin line of ointment in the pouch. Close the eye for 30 to 60 seconds to let the ointment absorb.
• For younger children, have the child lie down with eyes closed. Pull the lower eyelid out to create a pouch. Put a thin line of ointment in the pouch. With the child's eyes closed, ask the child to move his or her eyeball from side to side to move the ointment around the eye.
• Eye ointment can cause some temporary blurring of vision.



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