After your child has had an eye operation

This page explains what to expect after your child has had an eye operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

For the first 48 hours after an eye operation, it is quite normal for your child to feel some discomfort, particularly when they are having eye drops put in.

Occasionally, your consultant might prescribe pain relief medicines. If this is the case, once at home, you should give your child regular pain relieving medicine, every four to six hours for the first 24 hours and then as often as they need it, according to the instructions on the bottle. 

Paracetamol (Calpol® or Disprol®) is usually strong enough. If you feel your child needs stronger medicine, after getting home, you should call your family doctor (GP) (keep the discharge letter by the telephone) or contact the ward on your information leaflet for over-the-phone advice.

How will my child feel after anaesthetic?

Your child may feel sick for the first 24 hours. You should encourage, but not force, your child to drink. As long as your child is drinking, it does not matter if they do not feel like eating for the first couple of days.

How soon will my child recover from an eye operation?

Your child may be tired and a little clumsy for 24 hours after the operation, so do not allow activities such as riding a bike, which may lead to a fall. Your child should stay away from school or nursery until you have been seen by the doctor in the clinic.

Will my child need to have any stitches removed?

If your child has had stitches, they will be soluble and will dissolve on their own. In some operations, permanent sutures are used and your consultant will normally
inform you about this. Your child should not go swimming until to do so by the doctor.

Should I clean around the eye?

If your child’s eye is crusty, particularly after waking up, you can gently clean away any discharge using cooled, boiled water and a tissue. Do not use cotton wool, as it leaves behind fibres which can irritate the eye.

How do I put in 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 their arms and legs still

3. Shake the bottle.

4. Remove the top from the bottle and throw away the plastic seal.

5. Gently pull down your child’s lower eyelid.

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

7. Hold the dropper above your child’s eye and squeeze one drop into the lower eyelid avoiding the corner of their eye.

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

9. Put the top back on the bottle.

10. Wipe away any excess with a clean tissue.

11. 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.

How should I look after the eye drops?

Your eye drops have been tested to make sure they are free from germs when you receive them. It is important that you keep them in good condition:

  • Keep the bottle tightly closed in a cool, dark place, when not in use. Put them in the fridge if the label tells you to refrigerate them.
  • Do not allow the dropper or dropper nozzle to touch your child’s eye or your fingers.
  • Never lend eye-drops to anyone else.
  • Eye drops do not keep and should not be used beyond the expiry date. This is because they can become dirty and infected. Write the date you open the bottle on the label so you will know when to throw them away.
  • If you have any questions about your eye drops or any other medicines, your local chemist can help.
  • Keep all medicines out of the reach of children.

When should I contact the hospital or my GP?

You should contact either your GP or the ward your child was discharged from, if:

  • Your child is in a lot of pain and pain relief does not help.
  • There is any further oozing or bleeding from the eye.
  • The eye looks red or inflamed, or the skin around the eye feels hotter than the surrounding skin.
  • There is any coloured discharge from the eye.
  • Your child is vomiting or not drinking any fluids. 
Compiled by: 
The Ophthalmology Department in collaboration with the Child and Family Information Group
Last review date: 
July 2016


Please note this is a generic GOSH information sheet. If you have specific questions about how this relates to your child, please ask your doctor. Please note this information may not necessarily reflect treatment at other hospitals.