The “do’s and dont’s” of eye drops

It’s a sad fact that today, the eyes of many people are suffering from a severe lack of moisture.

It’s not because we don’t cry enough — although some blubbering emotional therapy surely wouldn’t hurt. The problem is, if it’s not so obvious to you now reading this on a phone or computer, that screen use and the consumption of media has become the dominant way in which we spend our time.

Tell me if this sounds familiar: after a hard day’s work at the office or a long night of binge-watching, you peel yourself away from the screen and rub your strained and irritated eyes, only to see a blur of what was the world around you. This is a typical experience of CVS, otherwise known as digital eye strain.

It’s difficult to know how many people in the world are suffering from digital eye strain. But with 88 percent of those aged 18 to 39 and 83 percent of those ages 40 to 59 using a device for more than two hours a day, the prediction is that it’s heaps — millions if not tens of millions of people around the world.

Although your eyes are one of the fasting healing parts of the body, they are sensitive to changes in conditions. And when you don’t heed their various warning signs and rest or protect them, they can develop all sorts of issues. That’s why, first and foremost, the best way to manage digital eye strain is to prevent it, i.e. by cutting down on screen use and implementing the 20-20-20 method.

It’s also why, after performing Laser Eye Surgery, dry eyes is the most common side effect. Laser Eye Surgery is a minimally-invasive procedure that causes very little disruption to the eyes. However, as part of the recovery process, it can result in the patient experiencing some temporary dryness.

Not to worry, though. This is precisely why we provide eye drops to all our patients, recommending they use them whenever they feel any mild discomfort or irritation. This can often be the case if you sit for long periods in air-conditioned rooms or use a screen for prolonged lengths of time.

It’s important to point out here that although drops are great at keeping your eyes comfortable and moist, they don’t safeguard them against overexertion. And so we also have guidelines of best practices to follow throughout the recovery process, such as when you can return to activities like flying and drinking alcohol, two activities that also dry out your eyes.

But here the focus is eye drops, which, if used correctly, will most likely only be required for a brief period — from one or two days to a fortnight at most.

The eyedrop checklist

The number one rule when using eye drops is to always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before applying them. Your hands are one of the biggest risks when applying anything to your eyes as they can transfer dirt, grit, and other particles that cause irritation and lead to infections.

You also want to check the dropper tip is not chipped or cracked and to make sure that it is clean. As above, it’s best practice to not let the dropper tip touch the eye, eyelid, lashes, or any other surface. This will keep it free from bacteria and prevent it from contaminating the solution. If the dropper does touch a surface, buy a new one or simply ask us for a replacement over the phone or at one of your aftercare appointments.

You could probably guess that sharing someone else’s eye drops is then also therefore a big no-no. Doing so is a surefire way to spread infection and can be easily avoided by making sure you have a good supply of your own drops — particularly when travelling or at work.

With the ground rules laid out, let’s look at how you should go about keeping your eyes moist.

How to apply eye drops

With clean hands, suck some of the solution into the dropper and tilt your head back. Next, pull the lower eyelid down with one or two fingers to open a small pouch.

Gently squeeze the dropper to apply one or two drops (your surgeon will tell you the ideal quantity for you) into the opening, and then do the same for the other eye. Close both eyes for a minute or so, tilting your head down as though looking at the floor to help the drops spread across the eyes and absorb. Try not to blink or squeeze your eyelids.

If you’re using more than a few drops in the same eye, you may have to wait a few minutes before adding the next drop. Finish the ritual as you began by washing your hands.

And it’s as simple as that. If you have any more questions about using eye drops, be sure to ask us in the comments below.