Eye Drop Guides

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Is the tobramycin eye drop safe for a 3 year old girl?

If a doctor prescribed it for the child, it can safely be used by following the directions on the prescription label. Please do not use medicine prescribed for one person on someone else.


Is it dangerous if my girlfriend accidentally drank two drops of allergy eye drops?

Probably nothing will happen if it's just a couple of drops because when we use eyedrops, some small amount is swallowed or absorbed through our mucous membranes. Any fluid bathing the eye, like tears, goes into our lacrimal ducts which drain into our nasal cavity and into the back of the throat.


Why do eye drops come with the message- to be used within one month of opening the container?

It's because of microbial contamination.

Your eyes, skin, and fingers will all be carrying bacteria every time they come into contact with the opening of the eye drop container, potentially getting into the product. Additionally, when it sits open on the counter, microbes from the air could also get into the eye drops.

Many products like eye drops will have a preservative in it designed to inhibit microbial growth inside the liquid, but that protection only lasts so long. One month is a general rule for how long the eye drop inside can stay relatively free of microbes. Once the preservative's protection has run out and microbes start growing inside, you run the risk of inoculating your eye with the microbes, potentially giving you an infection.

As a side note, the same kind of rules apply for other products as well. Things like eye makeup have the same kind of general guidelines for how long it should be used before discarding, because they touch the eye as well. An example is that mascara should be thrown out within three months of opening it.


Vision (eyesight): Are there any side effects of using eye drops?

That depends on what kind of eye drop it is, that is being overused. For example using steroid eyedrops too frequently for too long risks the user getting cataracts and glaucoma (high eye pressures). Using certain antibiotics like gentamicin or tobramycin too frequently for too long risks causing eye irritation and corneal/conjunctival epithelial erosions. On the other hand, there are no side effects no matter how much preservative free artificial tears (like Refresh Plus or Tears Naturale Free) you instill in your eye. So, it depends.


Vision (eyesight): What are the best brand of eye drops?

The correct answer to this is more of a "what works best for someone else may not be the best for you", but I'll give you a few specific brands in just a minute.

My greatest advice to you is that if you're working a lot, especially on the computer, make sure you take frequent breaks, and remind yourself to blink often (when we use the computer, we often get mesmerized and start staring at it without blinking the normal rate). Follow the 20-20-20 guideline - every 20 min, look around at least 20 ft away (like out the window) for at least 20 seconds...stretch, drink some water, whatever to give yourself a nice break and keep your eyes comfortable.

If your office is heavily air-conditioned, definitely use eye drops frequently (see list below). You might even look into getting some wrap-around computer glasses like Gunnars. The tint doesn't do much for most people but the wrap-around prevents drafts from the A/C from drying out your eyes as fast.

If it's not the computer that you're working at a lot, but you work outdoors in a dusty environment or with lots of pollen around, your eyes may be red from the allergens and irritants in the air. Use eye drops, wrap-around sunglasses or glasses, and cold compresses if the eyes get itchy. Cold compresses: take a cold pack (ice pack in a towel, cold wet towel, pack of frozen peas, etc) and hold it gently against the closed eyelids for a minute. If you can refrigerate your artificial tears, that would feel very comforting and relieving.

I discourage my patients from using Visine or any product that says "GET THE RED OUT!". There's too many types of Visine and most of them contain a drug called naphazoline or a similar vasoconstricting drug. While these constrict the blood vessels in your eyes to make them look whiter, they do nothing to treat the root cause, they do not lubricate your eyes, and in fact have been shown to cause increased dryness of the eye. If used frequently, your eyes could become "addicted" to the drug and when you try to stop it, you'll get rebound inflammation and redness that is often worse than what you started with.

So stick with natural lubricating artificial tears (the following have worked best for my patients and me personally):

Systane Ultra - OK with contacts

Systane Gel - avoid with contacts except GPs are OK

Blink Tears - OK with contacts

Blink Gel - avoid with contacts except GPs

Refresh Tears - OK with contacts

Refresh Liquigel - avoid with contacts except GPs

Again...NO VISINE!!!!

Use one drop in each eye at least 3-4 times a day, even every hour if needed. Close your eyes and roll your eyes around, let it really soak in. If your eyes itch, follow the cold compress instruction above and try refrigerating your bottle of artificial tears. Ask your local optometrist for samples and/or coupons, stock up when drugstores have sales and coupons.

If you have allergies and suffer from dry, itchy eyes due to that, try:



or generics: ketotifen fumarate

Use one drop in each eye every 12 hours. Do cold compresses and store the drops in the fridge (it's not required, but the coldness helps relieve your eyes faster and more effectively).

Also, omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to help improve dry eye (as well as many other health benefits). Try taking 1000 mg of EHA+DPA per day (check the back side of the bottle and add up the EHA + DPA yourself, since 1000 mg fish oil does not usually contain 1000 mg of EHA + DPA).

If none of these do it for you, see your local optometrist for a dry eye workup, and they will be able to better determine the root cause of your dry eye (e.g. is it meibomian gland dysfunction? is it blepharitis? is it inflammatory? is it Sjogren's syndrome? is it thryoid disease? etc etc) and help guide you in the right direction. You may need punctal plugs (permanent or temporary), hot compresses, lid scrubs, antibiotic eye drops, anti-inflammatory eye drops such as steroids, prescription dry eye drops (Restasis), or maybe referred to your primary care doctor for further workup for systemic diseases that cause dry eye. Many medications cause dry eye too, including birth control pills, anti-depressants, etc.


How do eye drops work?

The ones containing no active drugs just form a film over your eye to hold the moisture so being effective against dry eyes or irritated eyes.

Most eye drops contain active meds which will be taken up by the tissues under the eyelids (so after use you should keep your eyelids closed for a minute to let this happen, blinking will clear the eye drop fluid before this absorptive process is finished).


Vision (eyesight): Is contact lens solution an effective alternative to eye drops?

I use Clear Care to disinfect and clean my contacts. You cannot use this in your eyes--it contains hydrogen peroxide and will make your eyes burn and sting if you get it in your eye.

You need to be sure to let your lenses sit in the solution in the special catalytic case for at least six hours for total disinfection. This will decompose the hydrogen peroxide into just water and oxygen.


Why do we open our mouth when wearing Maskara or putting eye drops?

As a male, not sure about mascara, but I certainly don't open my mouth when using my eye-drops (twice daily, life-long).


What drugs are in eye drops to treat bacterial or infectious conjunctivitis (pink eye)?

Obviously Eye drop contains antibiotics along with preservatives.

Conjunctivitis does have following cause with the symptoms like redness, itching, discharge and swelling in eyes.

1) Allergic: due to dust, shampoo etc

2) Bacterial: due to bacteria, this produce more and more viscous secretion

3) Viral: due to virus, this produce swelling of eye lids

Virus doesn't have direct medication so generally anti-allergic along with antibiotics are prescribed.

Caution: The eye drop container once opened, should not be used after 1 month!