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Woman Uses Eye Drops

Eye drop dispensing aids

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.

We know that the easier people find it to put their drops in the more likely they are to stick with their daily routine. Our helpline staff are happy to advise on which dispenser would best suit your needs. Please either email helpline@glaucoma.uk or call 01233 64 81 70 to speak to an advisor.

Eye drop dispensing aids

Below are descriptions of some of the most common dispensing aids available.

Opticare arthro

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.

Spruyt Hillen Universal Eyot

The Universal Eyot is designed to help with the stable positioning of the bottle over your eye so you can accurately squeeze a drop into your eye. It can be used with the following drops:

  • Azopt
  • Azarg
  • Travatan
  • Duotrav
  • Betoptic
  • Iopidine – Alcon

Opticare

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.

Santen Blue DropAid

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.

Autodrop

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).

Thea Eyot

The Thea Eyot has a button to help you squeeze out the eye drop, which is helpful if you find the plastic difficult to squeeze.

ComplEye

This aid can be used with the Hylo series of eye drops with a pump-type design. Most of these drops are for managing dry eye disease.

Spruyt Hillen Silicone Bottle Opener

This aid helps you grip the lid of the bottle more easily. Simply place it over the eye drop bottle and twist. You will need to take the plastic covering off first.

A man putting in eye drops

How do you put your eye drops in?

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.

Getting into the routine

It can be hard to manage eye drops. Here are some handy hints….

Remember: Try to put the drop in at the same time each day. If your drop needs to be put in twice a day, try to leave 12 hour gaps between drops.

Multiple drops

If you have to use more than one eye drop, wait at least five minutes between them (or longer if advised by your ophthalmologist).

Contact lenses

If you wear contact lenses, wait at least 15 minutes between putting in the drop and putting in the lenses, and never put eye drops in while wearing lenses

I missed a drop

If you forget to use your eye drop and remember a couple of hours later, put the drop in then, and get back to your normal routine as soon as possible. If you’re nearly at the time to put your next drop in, just wait until your normal time.

Don’t put extra drops in to “make up” for missing some – this won’t have any effect and the extra drop will just drain out of your eye

I keep forgetting…

Try leaving your eye drops somewhere obvious, to help you remember to put them in. Perhaps next to your toothbrush?

Set a daily reminder on your phone.

I need more help!

Download our drops chart, so you can tick off when you put your drop in.

Ask family members to help remind you to use your drops.

What types of glaucoma drops are there?

The name on the bottle

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).

Generic substitutes for branded drops

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.

Combination drops

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.

Different categories of drops

The drugs used in eye drops to treat glaucoma fall into several categories, according to the way in which they work.

Alpha agonists (apraclonidine and brimonidine)

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.

Beta blockers (betaxolol, carteolol, levobunolol and timolol)

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.

Carbonic anhydrase inhibitors (brinzolamide and dorzolamide)

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.

Cholinergic agonist (pilocarpine)

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.

Prostaglandin/prostamide analogues (bimatoprost, latanoprost, tafluprost and travoprost)

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.

An elderly woman listening to a phone

Helpline

Our glaucoma helpline advisors are also on hand to answer any questions you may have about your eye drops.

Call 01233 64 81 70 or email helpline@glaucoma.uk (Monday – Friday, 9.30am – 5.00pm)

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