The Right Way to Use Eye Drops (Part 1)

When it comes to dry eyes, people usually don’t go to their Arizona ophthalmologist to have it checked. They just go straight to the nearest pharmacy or convenience store, and grab a bottle of their go-to eyedrop. In fact, eye drops are among the most common things that can be found in medicine cabinets. They can be used to treat a variety of eye conditions, including:

  • dryness
  • allergies
  • infections
  • and glaucoma

However, there is a high chance that people are not using them the way they are supposed to be used. Even seemingly simple over-the-counter eyedrops may become a health risk if they are not used correctly.

More Drops Does Not Equate to More Effectiveness

According to Stephanie Marioneaux of the American Academy of Ophthalmology, putting on more drops does not really mean you are speeding up the treatment process. Knowing the right technique makes all the difference, and not the amount you put on your eyes. Here are some of her tips to using eyedrops properly:

  1. Do Not Squeeze and Drop All at Once

According to Marioneaux, one of the most common mistakes people make is applying drops too quickly. “The eye really only has the capacity to hold on to one eye drop, so the others are just rolling down your face and you’re wasting them,” she says.

Remember that an instruction to apply, say, four drops every six hours doesn’t mean applying four drops all at once. It’s “a costly mistake,” according to Marioneaux, and one that could compromise your eye health. “You’re running through the drops too frequently, and you’ll need a second prescription which your insurance may not cover,” she says. When applying multiple drops of the same medicine, take your time.

  1. Do not Even Think of Mixing and Matching Eye Drops on a Whim

If you’re using different eye drops simultaneously, space them out. “I tell patients to maintain a 30-minute window between their prescription and non-prescription drops,” Marioneaux says. Drops may interact to cause burning and watery eyes, which reduces their effectiveness. “If your prescription drop is [to be used] only once a day, you have the entire day to put the rest of the drops in,” Marioneaux says. Talk to your eye doctor about the best way to juggle different drops.

  1. Keep Track of the Amount You Put on Your Eyes

As with any medication, it’s important that eye drops be taken as directed. Missing doses or overuse can affect treatment. Marioneaux suggests timing doses to an existing routine, such as when you take other medications, or setting an alarm on a smartphone or other device as a reminder. You may want to move an eye drop bottle from one location to another once it has been used. If you prefer, keep a log or draw up a chart and check off whenever a drop is applied.

If a patient with a potentially serious condition like glaucoma can’t remember whether they used their eye medicine, Marioneaux advises putting in a drop to be safe. “If they’re not sure and their pressure is really poorly controlled, I’d rather have them do an extra one if they haven’t done it than to not do it,” she said. But Marioneaux emphasizes, “I do not routinely want them putting an extra drop in.”