Giving Children Eye Drops


Giving eye medicines to children is often a challenge, especially if the child is young. The eyes have natural reflexes to prevent anything getting in them. While these are usually helpful, they are less so if you are a parent who is trying to administer essential eye drops to your child.

Advice on giving children eye drops varies from source to source. Below is what we think are the best steps to take in giving a child eye drops.

  • Wash your hands thoroughly.
  • Explain to your child what is going to happen, and that it might sting (some eye drops do, some do not).
  • Make sure that the child’s eye(s) are clean. If not, use a damp cotton-wool ball or cloth and wipe gently from the nose outward.
  • Shake the bottle. If you are even slightly unsure, check the label to see how many drops to administer and in which eye.
  • Remove the top from the bottle and if it is the first time throw away the plastic seal.
  • Get your child into an appropriate position. This can be head tilted back, laid on their back or held in a safe position by another person. It may be favourable to wrap babies or toddlers in a sheet, to keep their arms and legs still.
  • Gently pull down the child’s lower eyelid.
  • Hold the dropper close above your child’s eye and squeeze one drop onto the lower eyelid. Avoid touching the dropper against the eye, eyelashes or any other surface.
  • Release the lower eyelid and let your child blink a few times to spread the drop around the eye.
  • Repeat until the required number of drops have been dispensed.
  • Wipe away any excess with a clean tissue.
  • If your child requires multiple types of eye drop, wait at least five minutes before giving it. This will prevent the first type from being washed out by the second before it can take effect.

If your Child gets very Distressed

This is not as effective as the method above and should only be used if it is the only way your child will take the eye drops.

  • Steps 1-6, as above.
  • Have the child close their eyes.
  • Put the drop onto the side of the shuteye nearest the nose.
  • Have the child slowly open their eye, or failing even this gently rub the eyelids so that the drop will bathe the eye.

Since children are unlikely to understand that this treatment is for their own good, it can be beneficial to ‘bribe’ them with promise of a treat.

Eye Drop Precautions

All medicines should be kept in a safe place out of the reach of children. Always read the instructions and only use in the eye(s) stated.

Check with your pharmacist about whether the drops should be stored in the fridge or merely out of direct sunlight. Since the eye is very sensitive to heat, the child may prefer it if fridge-stored eye drops are warmed to body temperature gently in a bath of water (NEVER microwaved!), and you should check with the pharmacist about this too.

Finally, opened eye medications should not be kept for more that 4 weeks as they can become dirty and/or infected. Make sure to keep the date you open the bottle so you know when to throw it away.

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