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Safety & Prevention

How to Give Eye Drops and Eye Ointment

Learn how to give your child eye drops and eye ointment with these step-by-step instructions:

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Cleaning your child’s eyes.
    • Use a different area of a washcloth for each eye, and gently wipe the eye from the nose side outward with the washcloth.
    • If the eye has crusted material around it, wet a washcloth with warm water and place it over the eye.
    • Wait about 1 minute, and gently wipe the eye from nose side outward with the washcloth.
    • Place the washcloth on the eye and wait again.
    • If you cannot remove the crusting, rewet the washcloth. Then, try to gently remove the crusted drainage. Continue until all of the crusting is removed.
    • If both eyes need cleaning, use separate cloths for each eye. Clean the cloths before using them again.
    • Wash your hands again when you are finished.
  3. Lay your child on his back on a flat surface.
    • If he will not lie still, place him on his back, head between your legs, and arms under your legs.
    • If needed, gently cross your lower legs over your child’s legs to keep him from moving.
    • Place a pillow under your child’s shoulders or a rolled up towel under his neck so that his head is tilited back. Ask your child to tilt his head back and up.
  4. Apply eye ointment or eye drops.
    Eye Drops
    • Bring refrigerated meds to room temperature. Rub the medicine bottle between the palms of your hands to warm the drops.
    • Shake the bottle if the label instructs you to.
    • Tell your child to look up and to the other side. The eye drops should flow away from your child’s nose.
    • Place the wrist of the hand you will be using to give the drops on your child’s forehead.
    • Bring the dropper close (within 1 inch) of the eye.
    • Drop the medicine in the lower eyelid, away from the tear ducts, which are located in the lower inner corner of the eye.
    Eye Ointment
    • Tell your child to look up and to the other side. The eye ointment should flow away from the child’s nose.
    • Place the wrist of the hand you will be using to give the ointment on your child’s forehead.
    • Pull down slightly and gently on the skin below the eye, just above the cheekbone.
    • Bring the tube close (within 1 inch) of the eye.
    • Apply a thin line of ointment along the lower eyelid.
    • Rotate the tube when you reach the edge of the outer eye. This will help detach the ointment from the tube.
  5. Ask your child to close or blink his eyes for a minute to allow the eye drops or ointment to be dispersed throughout the eye.
  6. Wipe away any excess medication or tearing with a clean tissue.
  7. Rinse the dropper with water OR wipe the tip of the ointment tube with a clean tissue.
  8. Replace the dropper to the bottle OR the cap on the tube immediately after each use.
  9. Wash your hands and note of the time the medication was given.
Last Updated
Adapted from Curriculum for Medication Administration in Early Education and Child Care Settings (Copyright © American Academy of Pediatrics 2012)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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