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How to Give Your Child Eye Drops

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A parent lays her child down and puts eye drops on the lower eyelids of the child.

If you struggle with uncomfortable vision or have had an eye infection in the past, you’re probably familiar with eye drops and how they can help. But if your child also struggles with these issues, you might be wondering how you can manage their symptoms by using eye drops.

Your child deserves to enjoy comfortable, healthy sight, so today, we’ll look at what type of eye drop medications exist, what they could help manage, and how to apply them to your child’s eyes safely. Of course, before we recommend using any eye drops, please be sure to speak with our team first during your child’s eye exam.

Get started by booking an appointment today at Calgary Optometry Centre.

Why Would Children Need Eye Drops?

So, why would your child need eye drops? Numerous strategies can help keep your child’s eyes clear and comfortable, but one of the most common is an eye drop. We can offer both medicated and non-medicated approaches depending on what kind of issue your child is experiencing.

Some of the most common issues eye drops may help manage include:

Dry Eye Syndrome

Dry eye syndrome is a common problem many people manage and can even affect children. There are 2 different versions of dry eye (evaporative dry eye and aqueous tear deficiency), which can affect your child’s vision and eye comfort in several ways.

Eye drops can help reinforce your child’s tear film, a layer of tears that helps keep their eyes hydrated and protected from outside debris and bacteria. Depending on your child’s dry eye severity, we may recommend an eye ointment or an eye gel to help address the problem—but more on those in a bit.

Conjunctivitis or Eye Infections

Conjunctivitis, also known as pink eye, is a common eye condition that affects the conjunctiva, whites, or your child’s eyes, causing inflammation or infection. In some cases, conjunctivitis may also lead to eye discomfort, wateriness, or even mucusy discharge.

There are a few different types of conjunctivitis, but we can help manage them using eye drops, ointments, or gels. If your child does develop pink eye, please speak with our team before sending them to school or daycare—some versions are highly spreadable, especially amongst children who share a lot of the same space and items throughout the day.

Eye Diseases

We may recommend a medicated eye drop if your child develops an eye disease. Although eye diseases are more common with age, children can still risk developing them depending on their overall health and family health history.

A young boy prepares to receive eye drops for his conjunctivitis or pink eye

What Types of Eye Drops Are There?

Several types of eye drop medications are available, each specifically designed to address certain issues your child might be experiencing. In terms of drop-like medications, there are artificial tears (traditional eye drops), eye ointments, and eye gels.

After performing an eye exam, we can determine what type of medication may be most suitable for your child eye health and vision.

Artificial Tears

Artificial tears are the traditional form of eye drop you might be familiar with. You can find these eye drops at your local pharmacy, or an optometrist can prescribe medicated drops to help with certain eye conditions and diseases.

Common types of artificial tears include:

  • Lubricating eye drops for dry eye
  • Decongestant eye drops for eye redness
  • Antihistamine eye drops for allergies
  • Rewetting eye drops for contact lenses


Eye ointments can help address more severe discomfort and conditions, but they aren’t quite the same as an eye drop. Ointments are typically greasy and semi-solid, and they may cause blurry vision for a short time after application.

However, ointments can help manage or address:

  • Blepharitis
  • Eye infections
  • Keratitis
  • Conjunctivitis (pink eye)


And lastly, we have gels, which are commonly used to help address serious forms of dry eye syndrome. 

Eye gels are thicker than both eye drops and ointments but can be used to support your tear film and protect your eyes from potential issues that severe dry eye may cause, like:

  • Corneal damage
  • Eye infections
  • Eye inflammation
  • Corneal ulcers

Giving Your Child Eye Drops

Now for the moment you’ve been waiting: let’s go over how you can apply eye drops to your child’s eyes quickly, comfortably, and safely.

It’s important to know that there are several methods you can use to apply drops to your child’s eye, so please speak with our team first before using them.

  1. Wash your hands and dry them with a lint-free cloth.
  2. Have your child lie down so that they’re facing up.
  3. Remove the cap from the eye drop bottle and place it in a clean area.
  4. Gently hold your child’s head in place by placing your forefingers on their forehead.
  5. With your thumb, gently open the bottom eyelid so it can act as a pouch for the drops.
  6. Add the eye drops to their bottom eyelid with the hand holding the bottle.
  7. Let go and let your child blink and adjust. Repeat the process for the next eye.
  8. Wash your hands again.

Alternatively, you can have your child close their eyes so you can apply the drops to the inside corners of their eyes. They can then open their eyes on their own to let the eye drop in.

Find Out How We Can Support Your Child’s Sight Today

If you’re concerned about your child’s eyes, book an appointment with the team at Calgary Optometry Centre today

Our children’s eye exam process can give you a comprehensive look at your child’s eye care needs, and we can provide you and your child with personalized strategies to keep their vision healthy and clear.

Written by Dr. Kent Prete

An active member of the Canadian Association of Optometrists, the Alberta Association of Optometrists, and the Alberta College of Optometrists, Dr. Prete lives his passion every day when he sees his patients. Dr. Prete has spoken at over 100 professional events over the last almost 20 years. A keen educator and confident doctor, Dr. Prete is nearly as passionate about educating other eye care professionals as he is about caring for and educating his patients!
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