Tips for Correctly Applying Eye Drops

Eye drops can do a world of good for your eyes. Over-the-counter eye drops can provide dry eye relief, redness relief, digital eye strain symptom relief, and even soothe the effects of not blinking enough. And prescription eye drops can be used to treat a number of serious eye conditions, including glaucoma and infections.

Yet even with so many benefits, some people have difficulty dropping them into their eyes. Why? After a lifetime of reflexively avoiding anything that could come into contact with those delicate (and important) orbs, it can be a challenge to open them to eye drops. We’re used to keeping foreign objects and other stuff away from our eyes, not putting them in our eyes.

But if you want to give your eyes relief, or cure some other eye problem, you need to let the medicine do its work—and get it into your eyes. Here are some helpful instructions to get you dropping eye drops with confidence:

1. Wash your hands with soap and water, then dry them on a clean towel. Use hand sanitizer if you don’t have access to hand washing facilities.

2. Make sure the eye drop container hasn’t been damaged.

3. Read the instructions on the container’s label, so you know how many eye drops to apply, and when you should apply them.

4. Examine the tip of the bottle to make sure it’s clean. Dispose of it if it’s dirty.

5. Either lean your head back or lie on your back. Then look up at the ceiling with both eyes. It may be helpful to look into a mirror if you’re standing up.

6. Use your index finger to pull your lower eyelid down and away from your eyeball. This will form a pouch that can catch the drop.

7. With your dominant hand, hold the bottle of eye drops over an eye, with the tip facing down. Make sure to get the tip as close to your eye as possible without touching it.

8. Squeeze the bottle so that a single drop falls into your lower eyelid, and lands inside the pouch you made.

9. Gently close your eye and keep it shut for a few moments. This will give the medication ample time to work.

10. Press the inner corner of your eyelid, toward the bridge of your nose at the tear ducts, for a few minutes. This will keep the fluid from draining into your nasal passages and throat.

11. Blink your eye, then repeat the process with the other eye. Use a tissue to wipe away any excess fluid when you’ve finished.

12. Put the cap back on the bottle, then wash your hands again, to remove any medication that got onto them.

13. Store the eye drops properly, and keep them out of the reach of children. Ask your healthcare professional if you have questions or are uncomfortable applying eye drops.

Our Recommendation:

>Check the expiration date of your eye drops, and discard them if they’re out of date

>Remove contact lenses before applying eye drops; you can put them back in 10 minutes after you’re done applying the drops

>Take your time when applying eye drops; the slower you go, the better your chances to succeed

>Make sure you’re actually putting eye drops into your eyes, and not ear drops or some other medicine; ask your healthcare professional if you have additional questions or concerns


>Share eye drops with another person. You could be spreading bacteria that can cause eye diseases.

>Touch the tip of the eye drop bottle; this can contaminate the fluid inside

>Worry about the excess eye drop fluid that doesn’t get into your eye. You only need a small amount of the liquid for it to have its desired effect

Still having trouble?

Maybe staring upward at a glistening eye drop that’s about to land in your eye still isn’t working for you. In that case, don’t be hard on yourself. Instead, try doing this:

1. Lean your head to one side, or lie on your side

2. Close your eyes

3. Place an eye drop in the inner corner of your eyelid

4. Open your eyes slowly; the drop should flow into your eye

Some people have challenges holding and gripping a small eye drop bottle. If that’s the case for you, wrap a paper towel around it. This gives it more size and grip-ability.

Other people, especially the elderly, may have hands that shake and tremble, which can make applying eye drops difficult. If this applies to you, try resting your dominant hand on your forehead, then apply the drops.

If nothing is working, ask your doctor about special tools you can use. And see your doctor if the condition you’re using the eye drops for doesn’t improve.

Applying eye drops takes practice and a bit of patience. Keep at it, and you’ll be dropping like a pro in no time! And your eyes will feel the difference.