A dropper dropping liquid into an eye with a red cross in the middle of the pupil.

What Was Your First Experience With Eye Drops Like?

Last updated: December 2022

Not long ago both of my sons got pink eye. The youngest is one and he also had an ear infection, so he got oral antibiotics. But the four-year-old only had pink eye and was prescribed antibiotic eye drops. So we went by the pharmacy and began our journey of learning how to give a child eye drops for the first time.

These aren’t your Mama’s eye drops

First, I tried the side-by-side approach. I got my eye drops and told him I would do mine first, and then it would be his turn (while emphasizing that our medicines are always separate and only used for the person that they belong to). That didn’t go so well. It was kind of ironic, since he’s fascinated with my eye drops and has even asked to try them before.

Then we tried telling him to imagine he’s opening his eyes big, as if he was looking for his favorite toy. Nope. Finally, we landed on letting him hold the bottle and be in charge, with a little assistance from Mom or Dad because the bottle is hard to squeeze. That method was a winner, and I’m proud of him for being brave enough to do this difficult task.

Technically, this wasn’t his first time getting eye drops, since I took him for an eye exam a few months ago where the doctor dilated his eyes. But it was the first time we did it at home and consistently: we had to do it 3 times a day for 7 days.

My early experiences with eye drops

I imagine I probably had some experiences with eye drops at a young age, like my son, which I may not remember clearly. I did get pink eye in middle and high school, and I remember having to put drops in a very painful eye. However, my experience was different, since I had one extremely pink watery eye while my boys had mild redness but copious amounts of discharge in both eyes.

My first glasses prescription was at age 11, and I have a vague recollection of being unhappy about the eye exam. I have memories of closing my eyes at the last second due to anxiety, meaning the doctor had to try again to dilate my eyes.

Around age 14, I made the switch from glasses to contacts. It wasn’t quite the same as eye drops, but it was still very difficult. In fact, I almost gave up because it was so hard to put something into my eye. I also remember seeing commercials for Visine on our TV and thinking about how unpleasant it is to have to splash something into your eyes.

Now I’m a professional

Eye drops are my normal. They are scattered everywhere throughout my home. This experience has reminded me that there are a lot of people out there who don’t put eye drops in their eyes every day. Some people probably find it very hard to put drops in their eyes if they have an infection or other viral issue.

In the early days of my chronic dry eye, I remember being so afraid of the drop hitting my eye – especially if it was one that I knew would sting. Using a conservative estimate, I have put drops in my eyes over 4,000 times per eye since this all started 5 years ago. I have found that it gets easier with time; now I have no problem putting drops in my eye, although occasionally I’ll miss my eye or have a hard time squeezing the bottle due to arthritis.

My kids refresh my viewpoint

It’s amazing to watch my kids go through all sorts of things for the first time, and sometimes it serves as a reminder that new things can be hard, such as using eye drops. This is true no matter how old you are when you have to do it for the first time.

But I can help my son – and others – by sharing skills I’ve learned from my medical experiences. I’m also grateful to report that I did not get pink eye, as I did not want to complicate my own eye situation by catching pink eye.

Do you remember what it was like when you first started using eye drops? Did you catch on easily, or was it more of a struggle?

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.

More on this topic

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The ChronicDryEye.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Join the conversation

Please read our rules before commenting.

Community Poll

Have you taken the 2023 Chronic Dry Eye In America survey?