Eye drops and eye ointment

This page contains information about the importance of applying eye drops or eye ointment correctly. It provides extensive instructions on how to administer eye drops to yourself and to someone else. These instructions were developed by The Rotterdam Eye Hospital.

Purpose of the medication

In general, you will receive a prescription for eye drops or eye ointment after a visit to the eye doctor or after an eye operation. These medicines will, for example, help to prevent inflammation. So, we recommend that you follow the doctor's orders. Continue to use the eye drops or eye ointment until the next visit to the eye doctor or for as long as the eye doctor has prescribed.

Points of interest

Read the package leaflet so you will know how to store the medicines and what side affects you can expect. If the text is too small for you to read, ask the pharmacist for a copy with enlarged print.

When you open the bottle or tube, write the date on the label, so that you will not accidentally continue to use it past its expiration date. Most medications can be stored for 1 month after opening. More information regarding storage duration can be found on the packaging and at the pharmacy.

After applying the drops or ointment, clean the bottle or the tube with a clean tissue if it has come in contact with eyelids or eyelashes.

If the eye ointment is too thick or sticky, hold it in your hands for two minutes before using it. This will cause the eye ointment become thinner, allowing it to flow more easily.

Eye drop instruction

Applying eye drops correctly will promote the healing of your eye. If you administer the eye drops yourself, follow these steps:

1. Wash your hands with soap and dry them well.
2. Sit down with your back straight. Take the bottle with eye drops in one hand as if you are holding a pen.
3. With the fingertips of your other hand, carefully pull the lower eyelid down, creating a pocket.
4. Bend your head backwards and look up with both eyes. If you cannot do this, you can also lie down.
5. Put the hand with the bottle on the hand that is making the pocket. Put the bottle above your eye. Don’t touch the eye, eyelids or eyelashes with the bottle.
6. Squeeze the bottle gently and let one drop fall in the pocket. Close your eye (don’t squeeze!), bend your head to a normal position and sit up straight again.
7. Close the tear duct directly for at least 1 minute by pressing softly below the little knob in the inside corner of your eye (nose side) to prevent side effects. You can open your eyes now.
8. Wash your hands, dry them well and close the bottle. It’s normal for your vision to be slightly hazy, misty or blurry after applying eye drops or eye ointment.

To administer eye drops to someone else

If you are a care giver and have to apply eye drops to someone else, follow the same steps as above. For you we have some extra advices:

1. Let the patient sit down. You stand behind the patient. Let the patient bend the head backwards and look up with both eyes. The patient can rest his/her head on your belly.
2. Let your hand rest on the temple, forehead or nose of the patient and keep the bottle above the eye. Don’t touch the eye, eyelids or eyelashes.
3. Let the patient make a pocket by pulling with the index finger the lower eyelid lower. You can also do this yourself with the thumb of your other hand.
4. Squeeze the bottle gently and let one drop fall in the pocket. The patient closes the tear duct 1 minute and can straighten his/her head back now.

Contact lenses

If you wear contact lenses, it is preferable to administer your eye drops in the morning, before you put in your lenses, and in the evening, after you have removed your lenses. If you apply eye drops more often during the day, you have to take out your contact lenses.

Hard contact lenses can be worn directly after applying eye drops.

Soft lenses can only be worn after 30 minutes. The preservative in the eye drops can be harmful for soft contact lenses. This does not apply for one-day contact lenses.

After applying eye ointment, you cannot wear lenses for 8 hours.

Dosage and medication times

It is important to use one drop at a time. Otherwise, the second eye drop will wash the first one out of the eye. If you use more than one types of eye drops, wait at least 5 minutes between each drop. If you use eye drops as well as eye ointment, apply the eye drops first, and then apply the eye ointment 5 minutes later. You can practice squeezing on a tissue so you can see what is happening.

If you have to administer eye medications several times per day, try to spread the medication times over the day as evenly as possible. If you need to use the eye medication 2 times a day, then there must be 12 hours between it. Below there is a schedule, so you will take all medication on the right moment and use the right dosage.

Eye drop aids

If you have problems applying eye drops you can ask advice to The Eye Pharmacy, the nurse, the homecare or at your pharmacy. They can instruct you on techniques and eye drop aids. The kind of eye drop aid you need depends on the kind of eye drop bottle you use. You can find on www.oogdruppelen.nl a summary of all eye drop aids available in Holland.

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