There are multiple forms of eye drops on the market today. Some you may purchase over-the-counter while others are prescribed for specific conditions including dry eye, allergies, glaucoma or recent LASIK or eye surgery.
When using eye drops it is important you follow certain safety precautions to maintain your eye health and prevent unnecessary infection with bacterial or viral agents. Here are some handy guidelines to follow when using eye drops:
Eye drops are sterile products up until the time you open the bottle. When you do use an eye drop formula, you may potentially expose your eye to a host of contaminants. This is why it is so important you take great care to avoid contamination of your eye dropper container. You should make sure you always use the dropper in a clean or sterile area. Never share your drops with anyone else, as you can share an infection or someone else may contaminate your drops.
- Always wash your hands before using eye drops. Be sure the area you plan to use is also clean. Never lay your eye drop container on a dirty counter or sink, or you may inadvertently pick up a viral or bacterial infection.
- Remove the lid or top of the bottle carefully and set aside on a clean surface.
- Bend your head back slightly and pull your lower eyelid down just enough to place a few drops inside the lower eyelid.
- While holding the eye dropper above your eye, squeeze on drop of fluid into the lower eyelid. Be sure while performing this procedure you do not touch your eye with the eye drop dispenser. If you do and have an eye infection you are treating, you may need to get a new dispenser that is uncontaminated.
- Once you apply the eye drops, avoid touching your eye or rubbing your eye with the dropper container or your fingers.
- Release the lower eyelid.
- Blink your eye a few times to allow even distribution of the fluid along the inner surface of the eye.
- Wash or wipe away any excess fluid that leaks onto your face or cheeks after dispensing.
- If you need to put a second drop in your eye, repeat the above procedure after waiting two to three minutes. This will allow the eye ample time to recover from the first placement and prevent any fluid from being washed away too rapidly.
Typically most eye drops last around four weeks. If you keep them longer you increase the risk you may get an infection from using them.
Side Effects of Eye Drops
There are few side effects from using eye drops. Some patients may notice the drops run down their mouth or throat, which may result as the drops drain to the nose through the tear duct. Other times you may notice your drops sting or irritate your eye for a short time after use. This should go away within a short time after use. If stinging, irritation or redness persists be sure to let your health care provider know. It is possible your condition is worsening or in rare instances, you may be sensitive to the drops prescribed by your doctor.
Most of the time doctors recommend you avoid wearing contact lenses while using eye drops. It is possible for the ingredients used in drops to accumulate in the lens. This can contribute to irritation, sensitivity, allergic reactions or even infection. Most people will find using eye drops a simple, easy and no hassle process that requires the tiniest investment of their time and energy.
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