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Eye drops: How to put in

Your child's doctor has prescribed medicine in the form of eye drops for your child's eyes. This page explains how to give eye drops to your child.

At the doctor's office

  • ​Ask the doctor why your child needs eye drops. Also ask about any side effects or reactions your child may experience from the drops.
  • Tell the doctor if your child has any allergies, whether to medicines or other substances.
  • Tell the doctor about all the medicines your child is taking, including over-the-counter medicines. 
  • 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

  • Tell the pharmacist if your child has any allergies to medicines or other things. 
  • Ask the pharmacist about any side effects or reactions your child can have 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 open 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 the 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 one 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 their head back and ask them to look up at the ceiling. If your child is under three, consider wrapping them in a blanket or towel. This will keep them from moving their arms and make it easier to put in the drops. 
  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 that needs the drops.
  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 them to close their 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 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 them while they do their activities.

Using more than one type of eye drops

If more than one type of drops is ordered for the same eye, wait five to 10 seconds between applying one type and applying the next. 

Using ointment and eye drops

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

When to see a doctor for eye problems

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 with the eye drops.
  • Put in eye drops before eye ointment.
  • Cleanliness is essential. 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