A woman's tears turn into sparkles under disco lights.

Disco Eyes – Mistakes with Eye Drops

How many mistakes can one person make over the years when using eye drops?

I’ll tell you how many. Plenty! I’m quite appalled when I look back at what I used to do with drops, but I knew no better.

Before I tell you about my “eye drop misdemeanors,” I’d like to share a related experience which I call my “Night of the Disco Eyes.”

Going to discos with eye drops

Decades ago, before “clubbing” was a thing, we had discos for teenagers. This was one of the first places I was allowed to go in the evening with my friends, usually with a parent waiting outside. It was often very crowded, dark, and smoky inside, and I always had some eye drops in my purse.

When my eyes started to hurt on one of these occasions, I brought out the drops and put a liberal amount in each eye, feeling some of them run down my face. I continued dancing in the dark with friends, under the mirrored disco ball revolving from the ceiling.

Glowing in the dark

Much later in the evening, when I was going home, I went into the foyer to get my coat. It was still dark in the foyer, but they had huge mirrors on the walls, and when I saw my reflection, I was astounded. Running down both sides of my face from my eyes, were these iridescent lines, reminding me of that old song “The Tracks of My Tears.”

They weren’t tears, however – they were the residue of the eye drops, and they were glowing brightly all over my face. The phosphorus in the eye drops was reacting with the disco lighting, and I had been glowing in the dark all night. Why didn’t someone tell me? No wonder this streaky apparition didn’t get too many requests to dance!

The same drops for everything

So, now, back to my other mistakes with eye drops over the years. In our household as I was growing up, we all used to share the same bottle of eye drops. They came out of the drawer for any eye condition at all, unless it was something serious that warranted a trip to the doctor. Dry eyes, red eyes, sore and tired eyes – “go and get the drops!”

We didn’t really know there was more than one type of eye drop. And we never really knew how old our little bottle was. If everyone was having a good run with their eyes, the drops might last for months. When they finally ran out, someone went to the pharmacy and bought “drops” – whatever they found on the shelves. I don’t think we read the label. “Eye drops” was what we were looking for, and that was good enough.

More mistakes

Some drops seemed to work better than others. I suspect sometimes we came home with “red eye” drops, and sometimes they were just lubricating drops. Way back then, we didn’t really know the difference or bother to find out. We could have been using red eye drops for months just to brighten our eyes and make them look better.

And while we were at it, the more drops you put in your eye the better – if one drop was good, two or three would be great.

We never worried about touching the top of the dropper with our fingers, or letting it touch our eyes or face. Near enough was good enough – just plonk those drops in there, somewhere in the vicinity of your eye, and get going on your way.

What I've learned

Fast forward to today. What have I learned since then? The quick answer is, “just do the opposite of all the above!”

A more complete answer, just from a common-sense point of view, is:

  • Read the label and buy the correct drops for your particular purpose. Ask the pharmacist if you’re not sure
  • Don’t use red eye drops or allergy drops just because you can, especially on a long-term basis. They’re not designed just to make your eyes look more attractive; they’re designed for particular eye conditions
  • I think one drop at a time in each eye is sufficient. Any more than that can just run down your face (as evidenced above!)
  • Don’t share drops with anyone else
  • Don’t touch the nozzle of the dropper and don’t let it touch your face, otherwise you may be inviting infections
  • Throw the drops out after the time recommended on the bottle

And most of all, don’t use eye drops under disco lighting – unless you want to end up looking like something out of a horror movie!

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