brown human eye looking up closeup

How to Put in Drops: The Beginner’s Guide

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Applying eye drops to treat digital eye strain or dry eyes? Or using them to relieve redness and irritation?

No matter your reason, it’s important to put in eye drops correctly for them to be absorbed into your eye and work effectively. Applying them the right way will also reduce the chances of infection.

But eye drops are not always easy to apply. You may have a shaky wrist. Or blink too easily. You may even experience the drops running down your nasal passages and into your mouth, leaving a bad taste.

Don’t worry. In this post we'll share step-by-step instructions on how to use eye drops properly. We also have eye drop care tips to help you avoid some common mistakes. Read on to find out how to use eye drops correctly.

How to Put in Eye Drops Step-by-Step

Ready to put in eye drops? First, read your doctor’s or pharmacist’s note carefully. You’ll get a general idea about how to put eye drops in your eyes and how many times a day. Then gather all the things you’ll need.

Begin by washing your hands, preparing the bottle for use, and getting in a comfortable position. Hold the eye drop bottle in one hand. With the other hand, pull down your lower eyelid.

Now, squeeze a drop and close your eye before repeating the step for the other eye. And don’t forget to store your eye drops properly!

Take a look at our complete step-by-step guide to put in eye drops.

Step 1 – Read the Doctor’s Instructions

While putting in eye drops, the timing and dosage can make a big difference in the treatment. So, whether you’re using drops for dry eye, glaucoma, or redness, make sure to first go through your eye doctor’s note.

Check how many times a day can you use eye drops and the number of drops you have to put in each eye. Also, see if you have to shake the bottle before use. Finally, check how to store the drops, at room temperature or in the refrigerator.

If you’re using over-the-counter eye drops, follow the dosage instructions recommended by the pharmacist or written on the label.

Step 2 – Ready Your Supplies

To put in eye drops the right way, gather all the things you will need. These include the bottle of eye drops, a tissue or clean cloth to wipe excess drops, and a mirror if you’re putting in eye drops yourself.

Make sure you also have soap and water available to wash your hands before applying eye drops. You can use a hand sanitizer too if clean water is not available.

Move on to the next step only after you have gathered all these supplies. It can be difficult to look for a tissue right after you have put in your drops!

Step 3 – Wash Your Hands

Wash your hands properly with soap and water. Your hands carry lots of germs and bacteria. Handling your eye drops or touching your eyes before your hands are clean can cause an infection. Dry your hands with a clean tissue or towel.

left palm held before liquid soup dispenser on which the other hand is about to push

If soap and water are not available, apply an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. See that it contains at least 60% alcohol for it to be effective. But if you have to remove your contact lens, don’t use a hand sanitizer. The alcohol in the sanitizer can sting your eye badly and cause redness.

Step 4 – Prepare the Bottle

You will have to unseal the eyedropper if you’re using it for the first time. Don’t pierce the nozzle with a pin or needle. Read the instructions on the label to open the bottle properly without contaminating it.

Most eye drop bottles have an opener on the inside of the cap. Simply rotate the cap in a clockwise direction until it makes a tiny piercing on the nozzle of the dropper.

Depending on the product you use, you may have to gently shake the bottle before use. Shaking will ensure that the solution is evenly mixed, but it’s not always recommended. Now, remove the cap and place it on a clean surface.

Make sure that the dropper tip is clean. If it’s dirty, don’t use it. Also, double-check the expiry date on the bottle.

Step 5 – Prepare Yourself

Wondering how to put in eye drops yourself the easiest way? Well, you can use a mirror in front of you. Next, make yourself comfortable on a chair. Tilt your head slightly backward and look up.

With the eye drop bottle in your hand, rest your thumb above your eyebrow. It will help steady your wrist as you put in the drops. It will also ensure that you don’t accidentally touch the nozzle to your eye or eyelid.

Next, pull down your lower eyelid with your index finger. Create a little pouch where the eye drop will go. Focus on a fixed point above you, like a fan or hook. It will keep you from blinking.

Step 6 – Put in the Drops

Gently squeeze the bottle until a drop falls into the pocket made with your lower eyelid. Close your eyes and relax, but don’t squeeze them shut. This will give the eye drop time to be absorbed. Avoid blinking or moving your eyes.

young woman with eyes closed and head tilted back

Next, tilt your face toward the ground for at least 2 to 3 minutes. The American Academy of Ophthalmology recommends applying gentle pressure to your tear duct. Use a finger to press the inner corner of your eyelid where it meets the nose. This will stop the drops from going into your nasal passage, which may leave you with an unpleasant taste in your mouth.

With a clean tissue, blot any drop on the outside of your eye or cheek. After about 5 minutes, repeat the step for the other eye.

Important: If you have to apply a different type of eye drop, wait for about 20 to 30 minutes before applying it.

Step 7 – Finish Up

You can now replace the cap. Don’t wipe the nozzle, and don’t let it come into contact with anything. If you’re not careful, you might accidentally contaminate it.

Remember to also store the drops properly. Keep the bottle at room temperature or in a cooler environment, as described on the label. Don’t leave the eye drops exposed to direct sunlight. Prolonged heat exposure can make them less effective, and even change their composition.

Finish up by washing your hands again. This will remove any stray eye drops or germs. And with that, you’re done!

Eye Drops Care Tips

When putting in eye drops, it’s important to follow certain care tips. Like removing your contact lenses, keeping a track of your dosage, and spacing different eye drops.

Following these care tips will make your medication more effective. Plus, you will not be at risk of infection from expired or contaminated drops.

Take a closer look at our eye drops guide below.

Don’t Rush While Applying Eye Drops

It’s important to take your time while applying eye drops. Get in a comfortable position, on a chair or bed, and carefully squeeze a drop in your eye.

Give your eyes time to absorb the medication by closing them for 2 to 3 minutes. If you have to apply multiple drops every few hours, don’t apply them all at once. The drops will be ineffective and may even be bad for your eye health.

Remove Contact Lenses Before Using Eye Drops

If you wear contact lenses, make sure to remove them before putting in eye drops, unless you’re using rewetting drops or specific medication made for contact lenses.

woman's stretched finger holding contact lens

Contact lenses can reduce absorption, making the drops less effective. Wait for at least 20 minutes before putting in your contact lenses.

Don’t Mix Eye Drops

If you’re using multiple eye drops, space them out. Keep a gap of 20 to 30 minutes between each application, especially between prescription and non-prescription drops.

Mixing too many drops can reduce their effectiveness. Different drops may even interact with each other and cause burning and watery eyes.

Keep a Track of Dosage

Missing doses or overusing eye drops can make the eye treatment less effective. If you missed an application, use it as soon as you remember. If it’s near the time of the next application, skip using the drops. But don’t double the dose to catch up.

To easily keep track of your dosage, follow a routine. Apply your eye drops at the same time each day. You can also set an alarm or keep a log so you don’t miss it.

Don’t Blink Your Eyes

Blinking your eyes will not spread the drops in your eyes. On the contrary, it will push the eye drops out of your eye. Simply close your eyes for a few minutes. You can also gently press the tear duct. This will keep the drops from draining into your nasal passage and throat.

Don’t Use Expired Drops

Most eye drops have an expiration date of 28 days after opening the bottle. Make a note of when you started using it and discard it on time, even if there are leftover drops.

white calendar with red pins on it

Eye drops past their expiration date are no longer effective. Their composition may change, making the solution cloudy or colored. They may also cause infections due to bacterial growth.

The Wrap Up

Eye drops can help treat different types of eye ailments. They’re also effective if you’ve had an eye surgery like LASIK, or had cataracts removed. You can apply them for viral and bacterial infections, too.

But using eye drops the right way is important. Always read your doctor’s or pharmacist's instructions before applying eye drops. Check when and how to take eye drops.

Also, maintain proper hygiene. Wash your hands well before and after putting in eye drops, keep clean tissues handy, and don’t let the dropper tip touch your eye or any other surface.

If you have dry eyes, don’t forget that an eye health supplement can help. Eye drops for dry eyes provide artificial tears, but they don’t address the underlying causes of the condition. Nutritional deficiencies may be a contributing factor to dry eyes.

SightC is a plant-based vision health supplement made with Goji berries and other superfoods. It’s rich in naturally occurring antioxidants and phytochemicals including lutein, zeaxanthin, and beta-carotene that help keep your eyes healthy.

And since it comes in vegan capsules, it’s easy to take—no redness, no irritation, no risk of infection. Try it out if you haven’t already!

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