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How to give medicines: eye drops

This leaflet gives tips about how to give eye drops to children. Leaflets on individual medicines are available on the Medicines for Children website.

This leaflet has been written specifically for parents and carers about the use of medicines in children. Please read this leaflet carefully. Keep it somewhere safe so that you can read it again.

Eye drops and eye ointment

Medicines for the eye are available as eye drops or as eye ointment. 

Important things to know about eye drops and eye ointment

  • Once opened, eye drops and ointments should normally not be kept more than 28 days. Give old medicines to your pharmacist to dispose of.
  • Sometimes eye drops or ointment can cause mild redness, stinging or blurred vision. This should go away after a few minutes, but if it persists or is severe, contact a doctor or pharmacist.
  • Your child should not wear contact lenses during the whole course of the eye drops or ointment they have been prescribed, as the lenses could be damaged.
  • If your child is using more than one eye medicine, try to leave at least 5 minutes between the different medicines.
  • If your child is being treated for an infection, it is common to be given a separate bottle or tube for each eye.

Before you give eye drops

  • If you have to give both eye drops and eye ointment, give the eye drops first and then the ointment
  • Use the eye drops only in the infected eye, unless your doctor has told you to treat both eyes.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water before and after giving the drops. 
  • The drops are easiest to give when your child is lying down.

How to give eye drops

  • It is important for your child to be still whilst you give eye drops. You may need help from another adult, especially with small children and babies. One of you can hold your child still and reassure them, while the other gives the drops.You may find it helpful to wrap a small child or baby in a blanket to help keep them still.
  • For older children, gently pull the lower lid out and squeeze the bottle gently so that one drop goes into the pocket that is formed.

 

  • In small children and babies, place the drop into the inner corner of the eye. This is easier with the eye open, but the liquid will still drain on to the eye even with a closed eye if you can hold your child’s head still for a few seconds.

  • Hold the bottle as reasonably close to the eye as possible, without the tip touching your child’s eye.

  • After giving eye drops, your child should keep their eye closed for as long as they can (5 seconds if possible) so that the eye drop doesn’t spill out.
  • If you think the drop didn’t go into the eye, you can repeat the process but do not try more than twice.
  • Try to avoid the tip of the tube touching any part of your child’s eye, if possible.
  • Wash your hands again with soap and hot water.

 

Giving medicines

Medicines for children come in different forms. Tablets, caplets and liquid medicines are given orally (by mouth). There are medicines that are used in the eye, ear or nose, and inhalers for asthma medicines. Other medicines, such as suppositories or enemas, are given rectally (in the back passage, or bottom).

Watch videos and read leaflets to find out how to give your child different types of medicines.