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Instilling eye drops: The easy way!

By Dr. Roxanna Potter, FLTN Columnist

Many people require the use of eye drops, and for many different reasons. From over-the-counter drops to relieve dryness to prescription drops to treat eye diseases like glaucoma, eye drops can be beneficial to eye health in many ways. Unfortunately, putting drops in one’s eyes is not as easy for some people as it is for others. There are some easy methods, however, and instilling eye drops is something that even the most squeamish of patients can master.

Quite possibly the worst way to put drops in your eyes is to hold the dropper above your head and try to look at the drop as it falls into your eye. The success rate of this technique is very low, with drops often landing on cheeks, foreheads, noses, or on top of a closed/blinked lid. With prescription eye drops, it’s important to know that they made it into your eye for effective treatment, and with this method it’s difficult to know for sure.

A more effective method is to look directly into a mirror, just as if you were going to shave or put on eye makeup. Tilt your chin just slightly up, but keep looking straight at your eyes in the mirror. While watching in the mirror, use your non-dominant hand to gently pull down the lower lid of the eye you are going to put drops in first. Don’t pull too far down; you don’t want to turn the lid inside out, just enough to make a little pocket/reservoir. With your dominant hand, bring the dropper/bottle up to the level of your lower lid and tip it so that it is aiming vertically down into the lid pocket you’ve created (allowing gravity to pull the drops down to the tip). Carefully apply pressure to the middle of the bottle until a single drop falls into the lid pocket. Avoid touching the lid directly so as not to contaminate the bottle with any bacteria or dirt from your skin. You can then blink or close your eyes and the fluid will naturally spread across your eye.

With this method you should be able to watch the drop enter your eye through the mirror, and without the fear or blink reflex causing your eyes to blink shut since the drop enters below your line of sight into the lid pocket. For extra absorption, applying gentle pressure to the corners of your eyes near the nose will temporarily block the tear drainage ducts and allow longer contact with your eyeballs. This is helpful particularly with prescription drops/medication, and may also reduce any undesirable taste or systemic introduction of the drops through drainage.

If you’re still having issues, stop by our office sometime for a quick demonstration in person, or ask your eye doctor. In my next column, I will explain another easy method for instilling drops into a child’s eyes.