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What is the proper way to install eye drops?

By Judith Whitehead - Contributing Writer

Having worked in the field of ophthalmology for the last 40 years, I have heard every story in the book on how to instill eye drops.

Eye drops need to be instilled carefully so as to keep the medicine in the eye where it does the most good and does not enter the body systemically.

Dry eyes are very common, especially among women at certain ages. People who are diagnosed with glaucoma have to use daily eye drops to control the eye intraocular pressure so the glaucoma does not damage the optic nerve.

Allergy season causes many to instill drops on a daily basis to avoid redness and itching. During the flu and cold season, many have eye symptoms that need antibiotic drops to treat  eye infections as well.

Eye drops need to be used as prescribed, Judith Whitehead says.

Many people use just natural tear drops that are purchased over the counter to lubricate and sooth the eyes.

Most people don’t stop to consider eye drops are medicine as well that affect the whole body. Drops are comprised of steroids, beta blockers and many other components that have side effects.

The punctum, or little holes at the end of each inner eyelid,  need to be blocked when putting in eye drops. A person can either gently close their eyes after the drops are placed for a few minutes or a finger can be placed against the lower lid corner to stop the drop from entering the entire system.

The best way to put an eye drop in is  to form a small pocket in the lower eyelid and put the drop inside. The eye can only hold ¾ of a drop anyway, so the rest will just spill out if too much is squeezed in place.

Care must be taken not to touch the tip  of a bottle  to eyelids, lashes or eyeballs to avoid contamination.

Some drops tend to sting or burn, and can be kept cool in the refrigerator to make the drop more soothing.

Some drops that have no preservatives may have to be kept cold.

At times, it becomes very difficult to instill drops for many people. Those with arthritic hands and the elderly find it a huge task to get a drop in the eye and waste much of the bottle. Today, with insurance companies  dictating the number of bottles that can be dispensed, people run the risk of running out of the drops before the month is up.

If one is able to get their head bent back to look up, or can lie down on a bed, as long as the head is fully back, you can rest the middle of the  bottle on the bridge of the nose and point the dropper toward the eye being treated. As long as the head is back, the drop will go right in place. This is an old trick I learned many years ago that can work.

There are also devices sold that can hold a bottle in place above an eye sold in pharmacies  produced by drug companies. Keep in mind, if prescribed, a drop to be used once or twice a day

Remember, less is more.  Overdosing drop instillation can cause even more problems so follow the directions given with your drops.

Judith Whitehead, of East Amherst, is a certified ophthalmic technician.


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