It has often been seen that the bottles containing eye drops, single use units or contact lens solutions are kept carelessly by the users. It is the responsibility of dispensing personnel to ensure the safety of users by counselling them appropriately.

The eye drops can be in the form of clear solution/suspensions/emulsions

1) Eye Drops and solutions need to be stored at an optimum temperature to prevent spoilage, denaturation of the active molecules, breaking of emulsions, excessive precipitation and crystallisation of suspensions.

2) There is contamination risk when the bottle is opened for use.  By contact with human hands, lid skin, accidental dropping on the floor or simply from ambient air.

3) Dust particles; fungal and bacterial spores from stored stationery items and books; talk, sprays and other molecular aggregates from cosmetics can react with the different components of eye drops. 

4) Exposure to Sunlight itself can cause spoilage in some specific cases 

All these can lead to suboptimal delivery of medicine/adverse reactions or even toxicity

Where to safe keep the bottles?

A cool dry place is often recommended. Not in the library; Not in the kitchen; Not in the bathroom; Not in the dressing room; Not in the powder room. A clean bedside closed cabinet is fine provided room temperature is not above 24 degree Celsius. Otherwise, keep on the door side in a refrigerator.

Carry bottles in a thermos flask to the office and do not leave them overnight in the office.

What should you check while purchasing eye drops?

Date of manufacture; Storage in the seller's premises; Condition of the pack; Seal of the bottle; Information leaflet in the pack, etc.

Many a time, a long expiry date is not a good proposition. The concentration of preservatives is high in such cases which are potentially harmful to the eyes.  

How to Use Eye Drops?

  • Frequency of instillation is decided by the prescribing doctor
  • There must be a gap of at least 5 minutes between two different molecules
  • Do not touch the nozzle of a bottle and prevent it from touching an object
  • Replace cover on the nozzle after instillation and put the bottle in its pack to avoid mix up
  • Discard first few drops on the next day of use
  • Discard a bottle within 3 weeks of opening (do not store in refrigerator for future use)
  • Suspensions need to be shaken well before instillation (vigorously for 2 minutes)
  • Emulsions if broken should be discarded

Caution I

Drugs can reach systemic circulation by absorption through the mucous membranes of the nose as well as throat and cause toxicity. It is important therefore to press the inner edge of the eye against the bone of the nose to block the opening of the duct that opens inside the nose. This prevents the medicine from reaching the nose and the throat.

Caution II

In case of an unusual reaction such as severe irritation, itching, smarting, stinging, pain, redness, profuse watering etc, stop instillation immediately and rinse eyes in running water repeatedly. Talk to the prescribing doctor at the earliest.