You’ve Been Prescribed Eye Drops – Now What?

Let’s face it: Human beings were never intended or designed to place eye drops in their eyes!

Putting eye drops in can be a challenging task. It is best performed with both hands – one to steady and hold open the eyelids, and the other to instill the drop, all while tilting the head back. These movements can be difficult for those with neck problems or arthritis. Not everyone has the coordination, strength, and dexterity to accomplish this, and some people will require assistance from a spouse or family member. Lying down and instilling drops can be much easier, too.
Touching the tip of the dropper bottle to the eye also risks contamination of the bottle. Even when most of us think we can do it without touching our eye, videos show that most people simply cannot.
Further complicating the situation, squeezing the bottle can be difficult. Also, squeezing too hard can expel more than one drop, resulting in unnecessary irritation of the eye and/or running out of drops before the pharmacy may allow a refill.
The ideal technique is illustrated below
  1. Pull down the lower eyelid, usually with the non-dominant hand. This creates a small “cup.” You may also choose to use the thumb and forefinger of the non-dominant hand to stretch both the top and bottom eyelids open, resting the fingers on the orbital bones around the eye.
  2. Grasp the bottle with the index finger and thumb of your dominant hand.
  3. Rest the pinky side of the bottle hand on top of the hand that is holding the eyelid(s) open.
  4. Lean the head back. Try to stare at the bottle tip or look up slightly.
  5. Squeeze and allow a drop to “parachute” into the eye, either onto the eye or into the eyelid “cup.”
  6. Close the eye for 2-5 minutes after the drop has been felt in the eye.

Eye Drop Instillation Aids

For those who have difficulty placing drops in their eyes in the traditional manner described on the previous side, several products are now available to make the process easier. Most of these can be located and ordered on

If you have difficulty holding your eyes open, one of these “Bottle Managers” may be helpful.

If you have trouble squeezing the bottle, the Owen Mumford AutoSqueeze may be useful. The AutoSqueeze is also designed so that it can be used together with the AutoDrop.

If you are unable to lean your head back, several products make use of capillary action. The drop is first placed on one of these applicators, which then allows the drop to “jump” onto the eye when the applicator is brought close. This may allow placement of the drop without having to lean back.

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