• Dr Chan Jan Bond

Proper Instillation of Eye Drops

Updated: Oct 13, 2021

Dr Chan Jan Bond
MBBS (IMU), MMed Ophthal (USM), AM (Mal)
PgDip Cataract & Refractive Surgery (UK)
Consultant Ophthalmologist & Refractive Surgeon

Eye drops are the main treatment for majority of eye diseases. Proper instillation of eye drops is the key to success to proper treatment of eye diseases. Always check with your doctor’s instructions on the frequency, timing, and storage method of the medication. One drop of medication is usually enough for each medication. The eye lids can only hold about one drop, so any excessive medication will spill over as wastage. However, it is better to have excess spill over than to have not enough medication in the eyes. If there is more than one medication required, remember to wait for at least 3 minutes apart.

Instilling eye drops on your own

With your left-hand little finger, grasp the medication bottle cap and twist the bottle to remove the cap. You can continue holding the cap using your little finger so that you do not need to put down the cap on the table. Hold the medication bottle on the right hand and place the tip of bottle directly in front of the eye. Pull down the eye lid with your left hand to form a pouch and tilt your head back. Gently squeeze the bottle to release one drop into the pouch between the eye and eyelid. Recap the bottle and wipe off the excessive medication with a clean tissue.

Instilling eye drops for someone else

Similarly, open the bottle cap with the left-hand little finger and place the tip of the bottle in front of the patient’s eye. Pull down the lower eye lid or pull up the upper eye lid to open up the eye. Instill one drop of medication into the eye. For toddlers or children that are apprehensive, lie them down and ask them to close their eyes gently. Instill 2 drops of medication at the corner of the inner part of the eye and ask them to open their eyes. The medication will roll into their eyes.


  1. Wash your hands before putting in medication for yourself or someone else.

  2. Always remember not to touch the tip of the bottle on the skin (contaminating the bottle) or the eye (injuring the eye).

  3. Always shake the bottle before use.

  4. Check if the medication needs to be stored in a cool dry place or to be kept in fridge.

  5. Remember to discard a medication bottle that has expired. Overdue medication may lead to contamination causing infection to the eye.

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