The Glaucoma UK helpline often receives calls from people who have difficulty putting in their drops. This page describes the range of different eye drop dispensing aids, some of which may be prescribed and a large number are available to order from our shop.
We know that the easier people find it to put their drops in the more likely they are to stick with their daily routine. At the time of going to press, the descriptions are accurate to the best of our knowledge and belief. Our helpline staff are happy to advise on which dispenser would best suit your needs.
The Opticare is a hand-sized dispenser with an eyepiece for aiming the drop accurately. It has a large squeezable area to make it easy to administer a measured dose and can be prescribed free of charge to those who are eligible. It is best suited for round bottles, and there are black and grey rubber collars which come with the Opticare for bottles which may need adjustment to fit. There are some generic drops that may require the use of the two collars.
Most bottles can be opened and closed without removing them from the Opticare. The following bottles are very easy to use in this aid:
Allergan drops: Alphagan 5ml, Betagan 5ml, Combigan 5ml, Ganfort 3ml and Lumigan 3ml.
Novartis drops: Azopt 5ml, Betoptic 5ml and Iopidine 5ml.
The Opticare Arthro has an adjustable eyepiece and long handles for maximum effect with little pressure. It is especially designed for those with hand and arm mobility problems such as arthritis or sports injury. It is also particularly good for use by a carer/relative who administer drops for the patient since the device offers flexible positioning. It’s available free of charge on prescription to those who are eligible. The blue-coloured Arthro 5 can be used with 2.5ml and 5ml round bottles.
The cream-coloured Arthro 10 can be used with 10ml and 15ml round bottles. Unfortunately Cosopt, Duotrav, Timoptol, Timoptol LA , Travatan, Trusopt, Xalacom and Xalatan bottles do not fit in this dispenser.
The Novartis Eyot is for use with the Novartis-branded bottles Azarga, Azopt, Duotrav and Travatan eye drops. It is designed to specifically fit the shaped bottles, and make it easier to position the bottle over the eye and squeeze the bottle.
The Eye Care bottle opener, which comes with the Novartis Eyot, makes it easy to remove and replace the tops of bottles when they are in the dispenser. It has different sized ends and is made of an easy-grip rubber material.
The Santen Blue multi-dose Dropaid is designed for use with the new design of preservative-free drop bottles which have a blue blister on the top. Please be aware that it is not compatible with normal screw cap eye drop bottles.
The Autodrop is another small device suitable for a wide variety of eye drop bottles. It’s an eyepiece that holds the bottle and helps aim the drop into your eye, while you squeeze the bottle with your fingers. The Autodrop is not suitable for Cosopt and Trusopt (unless round).
The Eyot (Thea) has a button to help you squeeze out the eye drop, which is helpful if you find the plastic difficult to squeeze.
The DropAid is also designed for accurate positioning over the eye with easy-grip control. It is particularly good if you have limited thumb dexterity, as you can use your other fingers/palm to grasp the levers which squeeze out the eye drop. Take care though if you have had surgery and speak with your clinician/pharmacist to check the aid is not too close to your eye.
You can order the DropAid from our shop.
There are various ways to put drops in your eye and you will need to decide which is best for you. Some people like to stand at a mirror, while others prefer to lie down or use the wrist on knuckle method.
You can learn more about the common techniques on our eye drops page and then experiment with each.
Damage to vision caused by glaucoma is permanent and can’t be reversed. However, treatment can prevent or reduce any future damage by ensuring that the pressure in your eye doesn’t get too high. So if you have been diagnosed with glaucoma, it is essential to use your eye drops regularly as prescribed if you want to preserve your eyesight.
So you don’t forget to put your drops in, it’s worth getting into a routine and sticking to it. For instance, unless the bottle needs to be stored in the door of the fridge, you could keep it by your toothbrush so you are reminded when you brush your teeth. Some people find it helpful to make a chart with the days of the week on it so they can tick off every time they use their drops. You can find a drop calendar available to download.
If you use a drop more than once a day, try to ensure the times when you put them in are evenly spaced. For example, if they go in twice a day, aim for 12 hours apart. The most important thing, though, is to settle on a routine you can manage and remember every day. This helps to ensure that the drop does not wear off before the next dose is due, and so will help control your eye pressures and treatment plan.
Most drops are stored at ordinary room temperature (not next to a radiator or in direct sunlight) but some need to be kept in a fridge before the bottles are opened. Look at the leaflet that comes with your drops or check with your pharmacist to be sure you know the correct way to store your drops.
Some of the single-dose unit drops may be packaged within a sachet or pouch inside the box, and when the seal is open, all the drops within the sachet/pouch have a limited expiry date (for example seven days). Look at the leaflet that comes with your drops or check with your pharmacist to be sure you know the correct expiry once opened.
Don’t continue to use a bottle for more than a month after it has been opened or the date marked on the bottle if this is sooner. Start a new one. It is a good idea to make a note of when you open the bottle to remind you when you opened it, so that you don’t forget to order a replacement bottle from the GP/pharmacy before it has run out and you don’t use it after it has expired. The safest way to dispose of old bottles is to return them to your pharmacy.
If you have difficulty knowing whether a drop has gone into your eye, you can try keeping the bottle in the door of the fridge (not the freezer). You will then feel the coldness of the drop going into your eye. However, always be sure to check in the patient information leaflet or with your pharmacist that your drops can safely be stored this way, before doing this.
There are various kinds of pressure-lowering eye drops used in the treatment of glaucoma. All the drugs used in them have standard pharmaceutical names, which are not trade names. If your drops are only labelled with the names of the drug or drugs they contain, they are said to be ‘generic’. However, many drops are better known by their trade name, chosen by the company that developed the drug and have the patent. There are certain glaucoma drops where use in children is restricted (please see our booklet Glaucoma in Babies and Children).
As patents on glaucoma drops expire, more patients are receiving a generic version of their prescription in place of a branded one. The active ingredient(s) are the same and at the same concentration. Other constituents may vary slightly but the eye drops are essentially similar. The bottle and packaging are likely to be different, and may vary from one prescription to another.
Most people have no trouble with generic drops, but there can be some issues. For example, the design of the bottle might not fit your compliance aid or you may not be able to squeeze the new bottle if the plastic is too hard. Very rarely, the slightly different formulation may not suit you. If you experience any difficulty you should discuss it with your eye specialist, GP or pharmacist. Alternatively, the Glaucoma UK helpline will be able to help and advise.
If you need two different types of medication, using a combination drop can have advantages over using two separate drops. It saves both time and having to keep two different bottles. It also means that you deliver less preservative into your eye, which may reduce the possibility of developing an allergic reaction to the preservatives. For patients who pay for their prescriptions, only one prescription charge is levied for a combination drop.
The drugs used in eye drops to treat glaucoma fall into several categories, according to the way in which they work.
These act to reduce the production of fluid in the eye and possibly to improve the flow of fluid out of the eye. They are usually used two or three times a day. Brimonidine is licenced for the long-term treatment of glaucoma but apraclonidine is for short-term use following, or to delay, laser treatment. Possible side effects include a dry mouth, tiredness and general weakness. Very occasionally people may develop a severe allergic reaction to these drops. If this happens, the eye becomes increasingly red, sore and sticky. It can take several months for this to happen, but if it does, you should consult your ophthalmologist or general practitioner without delay.
The action of these drops is to reduce the production of fluid in the eye. They are used once in the morning or twice a day, as advised by your ophthalmologist. They are not usually prescribed for anyone susceptible to chest or breathing problems. Possible side effects include a slow pulse, dizziness and tiredness. In some people, these drops may cause depression, loss of libido or impotence. However, most people have no problems with them.
The action of these drugs is to reduce production of fluid in the eye. These drops are used two or three times a day on their own, or twice a day if with another drop. Possible side effects include redness of the eye, crusty eyelashes, fatigue and a bitter taste in the mouth.
These act to improve the flow of fluid out of the eye through its usual route and the drops are used three or four times a day.
Their action is to improve the flow of fluid out of the eye through a different route from the usual one. The drops are used once a day, usually at night. Possible side effects include a pink eye which usually improves over a period of time. The iris may darken in colour (more commonly in those with green or hazel eyes and less commonly in blue eyes). Eyelashes may grow longer and darker and in a small percentage of patients, the skin around the orbit of the eye may darken.