Posted: Thursday 26th September 2019
Many of us use eye drops, either to keep our eyes well lubricated and prevent/treat dry eye, or to instil drugs for treatment of conditions such as glaucoma. However, it is very common to struggle with actually getting the drops into the eyes. Studies show that more than half of people actually miss their eye sometimes or every time, with one in five people finding it difficult to squeeze the bottle. Up to half of glaucoma patients don’t use their drops as often as prescribed, and one study showed that 17% of patients rely on someone else to apply their eye drops. Some people always or sometimes touch their eye with the bottle tip – this can cause contamination and could risk infection.
In the future new ways of getting drugs to the eye will include nano-wafers slipped under the eyelid which will slowly dissolve to release the drugs, and contact lenses impregnated with drugs which will gradually leach out of the lens in a measured timescale.
Until these new technologies are available, Moorfields Eye Hospital and The College of Optometrists recommend using the ‘wrist knuckle’ technique to apply eye drops safely and effectively.
- Check the expiry date on your eye drop bottle, and shake if required.
- Wash your hands before opening the bottle.
- Lie down or sit down and tilt your head back.
- Make a fist with one hand and use your knuckles to pull your lower eyelid downwards. Place your other hand with the eye drop bottle onto your knuckles.
- Look up and squeeze one drop into your lower eyelid, making sure the nozzle does not touch your eye, eyelashes or eyelid.
- Close your eye and press gently on the inner corner of your eye for 30-60 seconds to ensure the drop is fully absorbed.
This technique is the best that we have come across and really takes the stress out of applying the drops. But don’t forget these other important points when using eye drops:
- Always wash your hands and shake the bottle if required before use.
- Never share your eye drops with anyone else.
- Store them as instructed, whether that is at room temperature (never near a radiator) or in the fridge. When travelling you can purchase special cool bags for eye drops too.
- Use your drops only within the expiry date on the bottle, and within the expiry once opened. This is usually 28 days once the bottle is open, but can vary for different eye drop bottles, so always check to ensure they are safe to use. This is to ensure they are not contaminated or have become less effective. It is a good idea to write the date that you open the bottle onto the label so you know when it will expire.
- Order further supplies from your GP before your bottle has finished. This will ensure that you do not run out of drops.
- Only administer the number of drops advised by your clinician, which is usually just one drop.
- If you feel that you may have missed your eye when instilling a drop, you can safely try again immediately. Any excess volume will simply run out of your eye and will not cause harm to your eye.
- If you wear contact lenses then it is important that you only use drops suitable for contact lens wearers, or fit your drops schedule around you lens wear.
- According to the Muslim Council of Britain, fasting at Ramadan is only broken by ‘an agent of consequence’ – a substance with nutritional or medicinal benefit that settles in the body. This does not include eye drops so they can be used (Moorfields 2019).
If you need any further advice, then please call in to your local branch, we are always happy to help.