Eye ointments are used to treat a number of eye problems, because they tend start to work much faster than medicine taken by mouth. To help you effectively treat your eye problem, our resident pharmacist Rita Ghelani offers her expert advice on eye ointment application:
What is an eye ointment?
Eye ointments are a sterile preparation of medicine. They are applied inside the lower eyelid to produce a local effect directly on the eye.
Why do you need eye ointment?
Eye ointment can be prescribed to treat a number of health conditions including the following:
- Eye infections.
- Inflammatory eye conditions such as conjunctivitis.
- Sore eyes due to conditions such as dry eyes or blepharitis.
How to use your eye ointment
To safely apply eye ointment follow our expert tips. Alternatively some people find it easier to ask someone else to put their eye ointment in for them:
✔️ Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water and dry them before you start.
✔️ Sit in front of a mirror so you can see what you are doing.
✔️ Take the lid off the ointment, tip your head back and gently pull down your lower eyelid and look up.
✔️ Hold the tube above the eye and gently squeeze a 1cm line of ointment along the inside of the lower eyelid, taking care not to touch the eye or eyelashes with the tip of the tube.
✔️ Blink your eyes to spread the ointment over the surface of the eyeball.
✔️ Wipe away any excess ointment with a clean tissue.
✔️ Repeat this procedure for the other eye if you have been advised to do so by your doctor or pharmacist.
✔️ Replace the lid of the tube and take care not to touch the tip of the tube with your fingers.
✔️ If you are using more than one type of ointment, wait for about half-an-hour before using the next ointment, to allow the first to be absorbed into the eye.
✔️ If you are also using eye drops use them first, then wait for five minutes before applying the eye ointment.
⚠️ Your vision may be blurred when you open your eyes after applying eye ointment - resist the urge to rub your eyes. The blurring will clear after a few moments if you keep blinking.
What if your eye ointment stings?
Some people may find their eyes sting immediately after use. This will normally only be for a short time. If the irritation is severe or if the eye ointment seems to make your symptoms worse, discuss the matter with your doctor or pharmacist.
If you notice anything unusual, tell your doctor or pharmacist. If your vision is blurred after using your eye ointment, wait for it to clear before driving or using hazardous machinery.
Eye ointment dos and don'ts
To get the best from your eye ointment follow our essential eye ointment dos and don'ts:
• Contact lenses and eye ointment
If you normally wear lenses, don't wear them while using eye ointment unless your doctor, pharmacist or optician has told you otherwise.
• Eye ointment storage
Some (but not all) eye ointments need to be stored in the fridge. Check that you know where to store your eye ointment. Do not share your eye ointment with other people to prevent the spread of infection.
Always keep medicines out of the reach of children. Once you have finished the treatment course, carefully dispose of any remaining ointment, or return it to your pharmacist for disposal.
• Eye ointment expiration
Never use your eye ointment after the expiry date, as it may be contaminated with dirt or bacteria. Eye ointments containing a preservative should be thrown away four weeks after opening. Follow the printed instructions given with your ointment. Write the date you open your eye ointment on the tube so you know when to throw it away.
• Eye ointment dosage instructions
Eye ointments should only be used in the eyes and must not be taken by mouth. Always use the ointment according to the printed label or as instructed by your doctor or pharmacist.
If you miss a dose of your eye ointment, apply the dose as soon as you remember, and then go on as before. Inform your doctor or pharmacist if you accidentally use more than you were supposed to and you are concerned or it feels uncomfortable.