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Eye Drops: How to Put In

Your child's doctor prescribed eye drops for your child's eyes. Eye drops are medicine. This page explains how to give your child eye drops.

At the doctor's office

Before leaving the appointment, do the following:

  • ​Ask the doctor why your child needs eye drops. It is also important to ask about any side effects or reactions your child may experience from the drops.
  • Tell the doctor if your child has any allergies to medicine or other things.
  • Tell the doctor about all medicines your child is taking. This includes medicines that were prescribed or bought over the counter.
  • Make sure you know which eye the drops are for. Ask the doctor to show you which eye the drops are to go in.
  • If your child wears contact lenses, ask the doctor if you should take the lenses out before putting the drops in.
  • Make sure you have the correct prescription before you leave. 

​At the pharmacy

At the pharmacy, do the following:

  • Tell the pharmacist if your child has any allergies to medicines or other things. 
  • Ask the pharmacist about any side effects and reactions your child can get from the eye drops. 
  • Check that you received the correct eye drops. 
  • Check the expiry date on the drops bottle. An expiry or expiration date is the date that a medicine should be thrown away. Ask the pharmacist how long you can use the drops once you have opened the bottle. 
  • If you are not sure which eye the drops are for, ask the pharmacist. 

Before you put in the eye drops

  • When putting in eye drops, always watch your child closely.
  • Before you begin, wash your hands with soap and water and dry them well.
  • Make sure you have the correct eye drops. Read the instructions on the label.
  • When you open the drops bottle, label the bottle with the date and month you first opened it. Do not use the bottle of drops after 1 month from the date it was opened. Do not use eye drops that have changed colour or appear to have crystals in them.
  • Make sure you are putting the drops in the correct eye.

How to put in eye drops

  1. Shake the bottle well to mix the medicine.
  2. Take the cap off the bottle. Put the cap on its side on a clean surface such as a new tissue. Be careful that the tip of the bottle does not touch your child's eyes, your fingers, or any other surface.
  3. Keep a separate box of tissues to use for the eyes only.
  4. Have your child sit or lie down. Tilt his head back and ask him to look up at the ceiling. With children under three years of age, it is easier to put in the drops if the child is wrapped in a blanket or a towel to keep him from moving his arms.
  5. Hold your child's forehead steady with one hand and raise the upper eyelid of the affected eye with the thumb of the same hand. If you are right-handed, it is easier to be on the right side of your child and steady the forehead with the left hand. If you are left-handed, it is easier to be on the left side of your child and steady the forehead with the right hand.
  6. Use the other hand to hold the bottle with the thumb and third finger.
  7. Position the bottle above the eye the drops are to go in.
  8. Using the little finger of the same hand that is holding the bottle, pull the lower eyelid down gently to form a pocket-like opening.
  9. Place the index finger on the bottom of the bottle. This will help release the drops.
  10. Put the prescribed number of drops in the pocket-like opening of the eye.
  11. Gently release the lower eyelid. Keep holding your child's forehead.
  12. Gently release the upper eyelid. Keep holding your child's forehead.
  13. Use your little finger to apply gentle pressure for about 5 to 10 seconds to the inside corner of the eye, beside the bridge of the nose. This stops the drops from going into the tear duct, allowing them to be absorbed into the eye.
  14. If your child can follow instructions, ask him to close his eyes gently and look up. This helps the medicine work better. Closing the eye tightly or blinking more than usual will remove the medicine.
  15. Wipe off any excess tears with a new, clean tissue.
  16. Let go of your child's forehead.

After putting in the eye drops

  • Put the cap back on the bottle of eye drops.
  • Wash your hands again with soap and water and dry them well.
  • Store the eye drops out of children's reach.
  • Some eye drops may cause blurred vision. If your child's vision is blurry, watch your child's activities.

Put ointment in after eye drops, if you have both

If more than one kind of drops is ordered for the same eye, wait 5 to 10 seconds between each different kind of drop.

If eye ointment is also ordered for the same eye, wait 5 to 10 seconds after putting in eye drops, then apply the ointment​. Always apply the ointment last.

When to call the doctor

If your child has a reaction to the eye drops or ointment, or your child's eye condition gets worse, tell the doctor who prescribed the medicine.

The name of my child's doctor is:___________________________________.

The phone number is:_____________________________________.

If your doctor is not available, call the hospital at 416-813-7500 and ask to speak to the eye doctor on call.

Key points

  • Always make sure you have the correct drops and put them in the correct eye.
  • Talk to your child's doctor and pharmacist about possible side effects, reactions, or allergies your child may have or may get with the eye drops.
  • Put in eye drops before eye ointment.
  • Cleanliness is key. Wash your hands before and after putting in eye drops. Do not let the tip of the bottle touch anything, including your child's eyes, your fingers, or other surfaces.

Yasmin Shariff, RN