How to give your child eye drops

This page from Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) explains how to give your child eye drops. 


  1. Wash your hands.

  2. Get your child into any of these positions to give the eye drops: 

    • tilt your child’s head back

    • lay your child flat on his or her back

    • ask someone to hold your child in a safe position

    • wrap your baby or young child in a light blanket or sheet to keep his or her arms and legs still
  1. Shake the bottle
  2. Remove the top from the bottle and throw away the plastic seal.
  3. Gently pull down your child’s lower eyelid.

  4. Avoid touching the dropper against your child’s eye, eyelashes or any other surface.

  5. Hold the dropper above your child’s eye and squeeze one drop into the lower eyelid avoiding the corner of his or her eye.

  6. Release the lower eyelid and let your child blink a few times to make sure the drop is spread around the eye.

  7. Put the top back on the bottle.

  8. Wipe away any excess with a clean tissue.

  9. If you are using another type of eye drop, wait a few minutes before giving it. This will stop the first drop being washed out by the second before it has had time to work.

If your child is getting very distressed

This is an alternative way of giving your child eye drops but it does not work as well as the method explained above. You should use this method if it is the only way your child will have the eye drops.

  1. Wash your hands.

  2. Shake the bottle.

  3. Remove the top from the bottle.

  4. Tilt your child’s head back or lay him flat on his or her back with eyes closed.

  5. Place the drop onto the side of the closed eye nearest the nose.

  6. Either let your child’s eye open or gently rub the eyelids so the drop will bathe the eye.

Looking after your child’s eye drops

  • Always check the expiry date of the medicine before giving it to your child.

  • Ask your pharmacist about storing the medicine. Some need to be kept in the fridge but others only need to be kept out of direct sunlight. Always store medicines in a safe place where children cannot reach them.
  • Read the instructions on the label and only use the drops in the eye(s) stated. If you are given different drops for each eye, make sure you use the correct drops for each eye.
  • Eye drops should be used within four weeks of opening. This is because they can become dirty and infected. If you are giving your child eye drops for a certain number of days, write the date you open the bottle on the label so you will know when to throw it away.
  • Some eye drops are packaged as single doses rather than in a bottle. Give the dose to your child and dispose of the container in your household rubbish. Do not keep it for the next dose.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach of children

If you have any questions about your child’s eye drops, please ask your family doctor (GP) or local community pharmacist.

Compiled by: 
the Pharmacy department in collaboration with the Child and Family Information Group
Last review date: 
August 2017


Please read this information sheet from GOSH alongside the patient information leaflet (PIL) provided by the manufacturer. If you do not have a copy of the manufacturer’s patient information leaflet please talk to your pharmacist. A few products do not have a marketing authorisation (licence) as a medicine and therefore there is no PIL.

For children in particular, there may be conflicts of information between the manufacturer’s patient information leaflet (PIL) and guidance provided by GOSH and other healthcare providers. For example, some manufacturers may recommend, in the patient information leaflet, that a medicine is not given to children aged under 12 years. In most cases, this is because the manufacturer will recruit adults to clinical trials in the first instance and therefore the initial marketing authorisation (licence) only covers adults and older children.  

For new medicines, the manufacturer then has to recruit children and newborns into trials (unless the medicine is not going to be used in children and newborns) and subsequently amend the PIL with the approved information. Older medicines may have been used effectively for many years in children without problems but the manufacturer has not been required to collect data and amend the licence. This does not mean that it is unsafe for children and young people to be prescribed such a medicine ‘off-licence/off-label’. However, if you are concerned about any conflicts of information, please discuss with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.