• How to Put in Eye Drops

    Written By: Dan T. Gudgel
    Reviewed By: Natasha L Herz MD
    Sep. 28, 2018

    There are many kinds of eye drops, and any of them could be a challenge to get into your eye. But with a few tips and some practice, you’ll get more comfortable with the process. The more familiar and confident you are, the easier it will be to put in eye drops without missing, spilling or using too much.

    The timing and dosage of your eye drops can be important to your treatment. Whether you’re using drops for glaucoma, dry eye, an infection or an allergy, you must use them correctly to get the full benefit. If you’re having trouble getting the drops in or using them on the right schedule, talk to your ophthalmologist about your options.

    Follow these steps to make it easier to put in eye drops:

    Preparing the Drops

    • Always wash your hands before handling your eye drops or touching your eyes.
    • If you’re wearing contact lenses, take them out — unless your ophthalmologist has told you to leave them in.
    • Shake the drops vigorously before using them.
    • Remove the cap of the eye drop medication.
      • Do not touch the dropper tip.

    Putting in Eye Drops

    • Tilt your head back slightly and look up. Some people find it helpful to focus on a specific point on the ceiling.
    • Use one hand to pull your lower eyelid down, away from the eye. This forms a pocket to catch the drop.
    • Hold the dropper tip directly over the eyelid pocket.
    • Squeeze the bottle gently and let the eye drop fall into the pocket.
      • Don’t touch the bottle to your eye or eyelid. This can give bacteria or other contaminants a chance to grow in your eye drops.

    After You’ve Put in Eye Drops:

    • Close your eyes and do not blink.
    • Apply gentle pressure to your tear ducts, where the eyelid meets the nose.
      • Hold the tear ducts closed for a minute or two—or as long as your ophthalmologist recommends—before opening your eyes. This gives the drop time to be absorbed by the eye, instead of draining into your nose.
    • Wipe any unabsorbed drops from your closed lids with a tissue.
    • Repeat the same procedure with the other eye, if necessary.
    • Wash your hands after handling medication and touching your face.

    An Alternate Method for Putting in Eye Drops

    For some people, it can be very difficult to put in eye drops using the standard method. Children and people who have strong reactions to anything near their eyes might not be able to keep their eyes open. This alternate method may work better for some people.

    • Follow the steps above for preparing the drops.
    • Lean your head back as far as is comfortable or lay down on a bed or couch.
    • Keep your eyes closed.
    • Hold the eye drop bottle with your thumb and first two fingers.
    • Put the other two fingers of your hand on your nose for stability.
    • Without touching the bottle to your eyelid, put an eye drop in the corner of your eye near your nose.
    • While your head is still tilted back, open your eyes and blink several times until the drop rolls into the eye. 

    More Tips for Using Eye Drops

    • If you need to take more than one type of eye drop at the same time, wait three to five minutes between the different kinds of medication.
    • Use your drops exactly when and how your doctor tells you to.
    • Ask your ophthalmologist or pharmacist if it’s OK to keep the drops in the refrigerator. When the drops are cold it might be easier to feel the drop when it hits the eye, so you can tell where it has landed.
    • If you have a lot of trouble putting in your eye drops, ask a caregiver or family member to help.
    • Several kinds of eye drop assistance devices are available. They can help with aiming the drop, squeezing the bottle and even keeping the eye open. Ask your eye care professional about what options might be right for you.