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Eyedrops and Ointments: How to Use

If you need to use eyedrops or ointments in your eyes, you will get the most benefit from your medicine if you use it properly. Some general guidelines are:

  • Always use the amount of medicine your healthcare provider has prescribed. Do not use it more or less often than prescribed.
  • Do not use this medicine for other eye problems unless your healthcare provider approves.
  • Never share eye medicines with others or use drops prescribed for a previous eye problem.
  • Before you put any medicine in your eyes, wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Read the label on the medicine to make sure you have the right one. Some eyedrop bottles and ointment tubes look like other medicines or chemicals.
  • Do not use eyedrops that are outdated or discolored. Not all eyedrops are clear. Ask you eye care provider or pharmacist about the color of the medicine if you have any questions.
  • If you develop any new redness or irritation while you are using your medicine, contact your healthcare provider.
  • If you have been prescribed both eyedrops and eye ointment, always put the eyedrops in before the ointment.
  • If you have been prescribed more than one eye medicine, use one and then wait 5 minutes before using the next one.
  • Eyedrops can be absorbed by the body. List your eyedrops when you are asked about the medicines you take. Let your eye care provider know if you are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or breast-feeding.

How are eyedrops used?

  1. Shake the bottle well.
  2. Tilt your head back and pull your lower eyelid down to form a pouch.
  3. Hold the bottle directly above your eye. Look up, and squeeze 1 drop of the medicine into the pouch. (Usually an extra drop is not harmful, but you may run out of the medicine too quickly.) To avoid contaminating the medicine, do not let the tip of the bottle touch your eye or any other surface.
  4. Close your eye for a minute or two, and with a fingertip press gently on the inside corner of your eye, next to your nose to keep the medicine from draining out. Do not rub your eye.
  5. Put the cap back on tightly, and store the medicine away from heat and bright light. Some drops may need to be kept in the refrigerator.

If you have trouble using eyedrops, ask someone to help.

How are eye ointments used?

  1. Hold the tube of ointment in your hand for a few moments. This will warm the medicine so it will flow easily from the tube. Do not use ointment that has dried out.
  2. Tilt your head back, and pull your lower eyelid down to form a pouch.
  3. Look up, and squeeze a 1/4-inch-long ribbon of ointment into the pouch. To avoid contaminating the medicine, do not let the tip of the tube touch your eye or any other surface.
  4. Blink a few times to help spread the ointment over your eye. Do not rub your eye.
  5. Put the cap back on the tube tightly, and store the medicine away from heat and bright light.

Your vision may be blurry for some time after using your ointment. Avoid driving and other activities that require good vision until you can see clearly.

Can I wear contact lenses while I am using eye medicines?

Do not put eye medicines in your eyes while you are wearing contacts. Sometimes you can put your contacts in about 10 minutes after you have used your medicine. However, some eye medicines will stain your contacts. Wait at least 24 hours after using ointment before wearing contact lenses. If ointment gets on the contact lens, the lens will need to be thrown away. Some eye medicines should not be used if you wear contact lenses. Ask your healthcare provider about wearing contacts while you are using your eye medicine.

If you have any questions about using your eye medicines properly, ask your healthcare provider.

Reviewed for medical accuracy by faculty at the Wilmer Eye Institute at Johns Hopkins. Web site: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/wilmer/
Developed by RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2011-06-27
Last reviewed: 2010-10-18
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
© 2011 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.
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