article icon

How to correctly instill eye drops

Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen MartinReviewed on 19.10.2023 | 3 minutes read

There are many different types of eye drops available both over the counter and via prescription. Eye drops are used to treat a myriad of eye conditions, including hay fever, dry eyes, infections, glaucoma, and more. While they cover a variety of treatments, they all are instilled using the same technique. Below we have a step-by-step guide to help you instill your eye drops effectively!

Things to do before using your eye drops

Before using your eye drops, make sure you have read the label on the eye drops for specific directions, such as which eye to instill drops into, how many drops should be used, and how frequently you should use your eye drops.

Next, wash your hands and remove any contact lenses from the eye(s) being treated. A handy tip can be to reach for a tissue to soak up any spillage of excess drops.

How to instill the eye drops

Start by tilting your head backwards while in a comfortable and steady position (sitting, standing, or lying down). Gently pull down the lower lid to form a space between your eye and the lower eyelid. To help steady your hand, you can rest the dropper bottle either on the bridge of your nose or on your eyebrow.

Look upwards to the ceiling or the sky, squeeze one drop into the area formed by pulling your lower lid down. Gently blink a couple of times to spread the drop over your eye. Close your eye and keep it closed for a few seconds (some drops advise leaving for longer, check the label for specific information).

For drops containing active drugs (does not apply to artificial tears or lubricating drops), you can gently press your finger against the inside corner of your eye closest to your nose.

This reduces how much of the eye drop medication is absorbed around the rest of the body.

Finally, wipe away any drop that has spilt onto your face, avoiding wiping the eye. Wait at least 5 minutes between drops if you need to instill more than one drop or need to use a different eye drop in the same eye.

If you wear contact lenses, wait 15 minutes after the last drop before putting them in. This is because some eye drops may damage your contact lenses. Read the label on the bottle for specific information on your eye drops.

For those struggling with the traditional method

If you are having trouble with the normal method of instilling eye drops, there is another method to try. Turn your head to the side or lie on your side, close your eyes. Place a drop in the inner corner of your eyelid (the side closest to the bridge of your nose). By opening your eyes slowly, the drop should fall right into your eye.

If you are still not sure the drop actually got in your eye, put in another drop. The eyelids can hold only about one drop, so any excess will just run out of the eye. It is better to have excess run out than to not have enough medication in your eye.

Was this helpful?

Was this helpful?

This article has been written by UK-based doctors and pharmacists, so some advice may not apply to US users and some suggested treatments may not be available. For more information, please see our T&Cs.
Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed by Dr Karen Martin
Reviewed on 19.10.2023
App Store
Google Play
Piff tick
Version 2.25.0
© 2024 Healthwords Ltd. All Rights Reserved