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  • Dr Anne Malatt

How to put in eye drops

Updated: Apr 21

Many of us have to use eye drops at some time in our lives, but do we know how to put eye drops in?

If we put eye drops into our eyes in the same way that the body makes and drains tears, they are more likely to work.

Tears are made in the lacrimal gland, which sits above the eye, underneath the skin below the outer eyebrow. Tears flow from this gland onto the outer surface of the eye and across the eye, then drain out the tear ducts. You can see the openings of the tear ducts as tiny bumps on the inside corner of each eyelid. The tears drain into the nose and throat, which is why our nose waters when we cry, and why we can taste tear drops.

So when we put in eye drops, it makes sense to do the same thing.

It is not easy to put drops in yourself – it is much easier to do it for another person. So if you have another person handy, by all means ask for help, but if you don’t, here are some tips:

How to put in eye drops:

  • Look in the mirror, so you can see what you are doing, without having to have an extreme close-up look at the bottle coming towards you.

  • If you find this hard, lie on the bed and look up.

  • Don’t worry – if you miss, or you are not sure whether they got in, just have another go. It is pretty hard to poison yourself with regular eye drops.

  • Gently pull down your lower eyelid, which creates a little pouch you can put the drop in

  • Just put in one drop – this pouch only holds one drop, so if you put in more, they will all overflow and run out of your eye and down your cheek

  • Look the other way – so if you are putting a drop in the left eye, look over to the right. This way, the drop lands on the outer surface of your eye, and has a chance to be absorbed before it drains away.

  • Close your eyes gently and wait a minute.

  • If you feel confident to do so, you can gently press on skin at the inner corner of your eye for a minute or so. This blocks off the tear ducts, which can keep the drop in the eye longer and prevent it draining into the nose and mouth, where you can sometimes taste the drops (and this is rarely a good taste!)

  • Don’t worry if you don’t feel confident to do this – it helps, but it is not essential.

  • If you are putting another drop in the other eye, look to the opposite side, so if you are putting it in the right eye, look left.

  • If you need to put more than one drop in the same eye, wait a few minutes to allow the first one to be absorbed. A few minutes is quite a long time if you are waiting, so it is a good idea to go and do something else, then come back and put the other drop in.

  • After surgery, you sometimes need to use two different drops, four times a day, for four weeks or more. This is a lot of drops for a long time, so the easiest way to remember to use them is to make them part of your daily routine. Try using them at breakfast, lunch, dinner and bed time, and putting one in at the start of each meal, and the other at the end. At bedtime, you can put one in before you clean your teeth, and the other after, or when you get into bed.

  • In this way, the drops can become part of your daily routine, that supports you in the same way that eating and cleaning your teeth do, and you can feel them as that support, rather than them seeming a nuisance or a chore.

Remember, all eye drops are drugs too, and if you experience any side-effects from them, please let your doctor know. They may need to be changed to a different drop that is better suited to you. We have plenty to choose from, so there is no need to put up with anything that does not truly work for you.

The main thing to remember when you put in eye drops is that they are for you, not against you! Feel the fact that they are supporting your eye health, and they won’t feel so much like a burden or chore, but as a loving support for your eyes and for you.

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