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Eye drops can treat a range of eye problems. For instance, you may use prescription eye drops from your doctor to treat an infection, a minor eye injury, or a condition such as glaucoma. Or, you may use over-the-counter eye drops to relieve dry or red eyes. Depending on why youíre taking them, you may need to use eye drops for a short time or for a longer period. No matter your reason for using eye drops, itís important to use them correctly. The proper technique helps the medication absorb into your eye so the drug can do its work. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to use eye drops properly and easily. What youíll need In addition to your eye drops, youíll need hand sanitizer or soap and water to clean your hands. You may also need some tissues to wipe away excess drops from around your eyes. Step-by-step instructions These instructions can help you put eye drops into your own eyes. If youíre a parent or caregiver, these steps can also help you give drops to another person. If you have trouble putting drops into your own eyes, ask a family member or friend to help you. Preparing Gather your supplies. These include the bottle of eye drops as well as a tissue or other cloth to wipe away excess drops. Wash your hands with soap and water and dry them with a clean towel or a paper towel. If soap and water arenít available, you can use hand sanitizer instead. If directed on the label or by your doctor or pharmacist, gently shake the bottle. Remove the cap from the bottle and place it on its side on a clean surface. Check the dropper tip to make sure itís clean. If itís dirty, throw the bottle of drops away and get a new one. Putting in the drops Tilt your head back or lie down flat on your back. Pull your lower eyelid down with your finger to form a pouch or pocket where the eye drop will go. Hold the bottle over your eye, with the dropper tip facing down. The dropper tip should be as close to your eye as possible without touching your eye. You can support the hand thatís holding the bottle by resting your wrist against your forehead. Look up. Squeeze the bottle so that a single drop falls into the pouch you made with your lower eyelid. Close your eye gently and tilt your face toward the floor for two to three minutes. Try to avoid blinking, moving your eyeball, or squeezing your eyelids tightly shut. While your eye is closed, use one finger to apply gentle pressure to the inside corner of the eye. This stops the medication from draining into your nasal passages and getting into your mouth or throat. Use a tissue or other cloth to wipe away any excess liquid from around your eyes. Finishing up If you need to put a second eye drop into the same eye, wait at least five to 10 minutes after putting in the first drop. Put the cap back on the bottle. Donít touch the dropper tip or try to clean it. Wash your hands to remove any medication that got on them. Store the bottle as described on the label or by your doctor or pharmacist. Doís and Doníts Doís Do know how long your eye drops can be safely used once you open the bottle. For prescription eye drops, ask your pharmacist about the expiration date. For over-the-counter drops, check the expiration date on the label. If youíre using two types of eye medications, do use them in the proper order. If youíre using both an eye solution and an eye suspension, use the solution first. Then use the suspension. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you the difference between these types of medications. If youíre using eye drops and an eye ointment, use the eye drops first. Then apply the ointment at least 10 minutes later. Do understand itís normal for some liquid to flow onto the skin around your eyes after using an eye drop. This does not mean you need another drop. Doníts Donít allow the dropper tip to touch your eye or any other surface. If the dropper tip touches any surface, it could pick up bacteria or other germs that could cause an infection in your eye. Donít wear contact lenses while applying medicated eye drops unless your doctor or pharmacist says itís okay. Wait at least 15 minutes after using the drops before putting in contact lenses. If youíre using moisturizing eye drops for use with contacts, though, you donít need to wait. Donít share eye drops with another person. Sharing drops could spread germs and infection. Which Whitening Eye Drops Are Safe? When your eyes become bloodshot due to allergies or other causes, your first impulse may be to try whitening eye drops to soothe the irritation and restore the brightness of your eyes. Whitening eye drops are also known as redness-relieving eye drops. Several types are available, each differing in their chemical makeup, and thus the way they work. Whatever whitening eye drops you choose, read the instructions carefully. Using too much may actually make your red eyes redder or cause other unwanted side effects in the long run. Read on to find out how whitening eye drops work, tips for keeping your eyes bright and healthy, and more. How whitening eye drops work Whitening eye drops mainly work in one of these two ways to make your eyes whiter: Narrowing blood vessels. Some redness-relieving drops include medications that cause the blood vessels in the eyes to narrow (constrict). This makes the blood vessels less visible, reducing the red hue in the sclera (white part of the eyes). Adding moisture. Other eye drops contain lubricants to prevent dryness and moisturize the whites of your eyes to make them feel better, and in some cases look whiter in the process. Keep in mind that some causes of red eyes may need more than whitening eye drops to clear things up. A bacterial infection, for example, may require antibiotic eye drops prescribed by a doctor. But for treating routine causes of red eyes, the following ingredients for eye drops may be helpful. Decongestants Most of the widely used eye drops ó both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) varieties ó contain decongestants or antihistamines. Decongestant eye drops work by narrowing the blood vessels in the eyes. When blood vessels widen, they can sometimes be visible, making the eyes look bloodshot. Other times, they give the sclera a red or pinkish hue. Decongestant eye drops include tetrahydrozoline (Visine) and phenylephrine ophthalmic (Prefrin). Antihistamines Antihistamines block the action of a chemical called histamine, which is released by cells in response to an injury or allergic reaction. Histamine, which triggers an inflammatory reaction in the body, can cause many symptoms, including itchiness, sneezing, and red eyes. Examples of antihistamine eye drops include ketotifen (Zaditor) and azelastine (Optivar). Some eye drops contain both a decongestant and antihistamine, such as the combination naphazoline/pheniramine (Naphcon-A). Briminodine Originally FDA-approved as a drug to treat glaucoma, brimonidine ophthalmic (Lumify) also helps reduce swelling of blood vessels in the eyes. Itís in a class of drugs called alpha-adrenergic agonists, and it works by reducing fluid levels in the eye. Lubricants Also known as artificial tears, lubricating eye drops are most helpful when your eyes are dry and irritated, such as from exposure to a dry or windy climate or looking at a computer screen for a prolonged period. Active ingredients in lubricating eye drops are somewhat similar to those in actual tears. The OTC product Refresh contains carboxymethyl cellulose, a compound that has the ability to remain on the eye for a longer period than more watery eye drops.