According to Stephanie Marioneaux, MD, a clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, most individuals use more eye drops than necessary to treat eye problems, and fall short of using good techniques for administration.
Here are six tips you should be adhering to at all times when using eye drops to treat various eye conditions.
1. KEEP TRACK OF THE EXPIRATION DATE
While many consider it safe to consume certain foods and vitamins past their expiration dates, the same rule does not apply to eye drops. As soon as you notice your eye drops are past the expiration date, consult with your eye doctor about whether or not it’s safe to continue using them. Your doctor will inform you of the next steps to take for treatment, and may issue another prescription if necessary.
2. DON’T APPLY TOO MUCH AT ONCE
Marioneaux says that most people will apply eye drops too quickly, which results in excess drops being wasted. Each of your eyes only has the capacity to hold on to one drop, so if the instructions say to administer five drops every five hours, avoid applying them all at the same time.
3. READ THE EYE DROPS LABEL
Since the bottles for most eye drops resemble those for ear drops, make sure you read the label prior to using them to make sure you’re grabbing the right bottle out of your medicine cabinet. Don’t put ear drops into your eyes, which could put your eye health at even greater risk.
4. DON’T SKIP EYE DROPS BEFORE AN APPOINTMENT
Always take eye drops as prescribed, and don’t skip eye drops on the day of your eye exam. According to Marioneaux, your eye doctor needs to verify whether or not your eye drops are working, which is why it’s important not to skip doses. Don’t skip eye drops unless your doctor has specifically instructed you to do so.
5. DON’T USE TWO DIFFERENT EYE DROPS AT THE SAME TIME
Some individuals take both over-the-counter and prescription eye drops simultaneously, which is acceptable in some cases depending on your eye health; however, patients must wait at least 30 minutes between administering each type of eye drops. Marioneaux says that using two different eye drops one after the other can reduce their efficacy. Consult with your eye doctor for more suggestions on how to handle the administration of two different types of eye drops.
6. ADMINISTER EYE DROPS IN THE PROPER WAY
When applying eye drops, aim the drop for the outer corner of your eye, instead of the inner corner. Then, look at your face in the mirror to determine whether the drop went into the eye, or landed on the face. Following administration, place a finger where your eye meets your nose to prevent the eye drops from draining out of your eye. Marioneaux also suggests removing contact lenses before applying eye drops, since contacts can interfere with the absorption process.
After the eye drops have been administered, refrain from blinking rapidly, which is the response most people have after applying drops because they think blinking will promote absorption. However, blinking too rapidly can pump the medication out of your eyes. Instead, focus on blinking normally so your eyes are able to fully absorb the medicine.