Can Too Many Eyedrops Hurt You?

Aug 16, 2021 | Eye Health | 0 comments

The eyes are one of the most sensitive organs in the human body, and so it comes as no surprise that taking care of them requires a delicate method. After all, it’s not like you can slap a band-aid on your cornea when something feels wrong!

Eyedrops are the saving grace for the ailments troubling our vision. In some cases a direct application of medical solution to the surface of the eye — in the form of eyedrops — is the most effective way to heal irritation and infection. Whether you want to hydrate your dry eyes or are on a treatment regimen for ocular diseases like glaucoma, you’re more than likely going to turn to eyedrops to preserve your eye health.

But if you’re like most people, you’ll occasionally squirt an extra drop or two onto the eye’s surface by accident, flooding it with more solution than it needs. When you consider that most eyedrop bottles put out drops which are larger than necessary to begin with, that’s a lot of excess medication getting into your eyes.

Which begs the question: are too many eyedrops bad for you? And if so, how many eyedrops are too many? Let’s unscrew the top off this dilemma!

Which Eyedrops Are Bad For You In Excess?

Not all eyedrops are made equally. Some are harmless in large quantities whenever needed (but are still certainly dangerous to drink), while others are specifically intended to be used at regular intervals. This is because different eyedrops serve different purposes.

Artificial tears, for instance, are generally safe to use whenever you experience symptoms typical of dry eyes, and contain very little chemicals which can be regarded as hazardous in excess.

an eyedrop user taking eyedrops with a nanodropper

Prolonged use of artificial tears can potentially wash the natural oils out of your eyes and create a rebound effect, making you dependent on drops, but the worst you could do in the case of an overdose is irritate your eyes by using too many tears with preservatives in them. You can try preservative-free if you find yourself grabbing the bottle four or more times a day.

Medicated drops, on the other hand, contain sympathomimetics (ingredients which reduce ocular symptoms) and often have specific directions to follow after you pick them up from the pharmacy. These are specialized to treat eye diseases like bacterial and viral infection, conjunctivitis, glaucoma, and even bumps on the eyelids. Some function as antibiotics, while others reduce inflammation and swelling. Steroid eyedrops such as prednisolone are often used after procedures such as cataract surgery to facilitate faster healing and pain management.

What Happens When You Use Too Many Eyedrops?

As far as artificial tears are concerned, it’s hard to go wrong. Discomfort may be the only problem which arises from overuse. But medical eyedrops are a different story.

When medical drops reach the surface of the eye, they initiate an effect known as “clamping down” on the eye’s blood vessels, constricting them and slowing blood flow. That means oxygen won’t reach the sclera (the eye’s white outside layer) as efficiently. Putting in too many of these drops can present symptoms of redness, irritation, and a slower healing process, but usually nothing more.

The aforementioned prednisolone, for instance, is a corticosteroid which relieves swelling and inflammation and has a number of side effects which can be agitated by an overdose, including dry eye symptoms such as (paradoxically) itching and burning. While the drug won’t cause any detrimental effects to your ocular health if you get an extra drop or two in your eye, it likely won’t feel comfortable.

an eyedrop user taking eyedrops with a nanodropper

Rest assured that in most cases, an occasional overuse of medical drops won’t be enough to harm your eyes or your vision permanently. Medicated drops are thoroughly tested and verified by the FDA to be as safe as possible in the event too much gets in your eye. Because let’s face it — putting eyedrops in the eyes can be challenging, especially without the help of a friend. But no matter what type of medicated drop you’re dealing with, using it against the directions of your doctor can potentially produce negative effects. Always follow label instructions, and make sure to clarify anything you don’t understand with your doctor!

At the end of the day, the worst aspect of overusing eyedrops usually doesn’t come from your eyes, but your wallet. Most drops — and especially prescription eyedrops — are expensive. Many patients are forced to request refills when their supply runs out earlier than expected because they missed too many times! Part of the difficulty stems from the way drop bottles are manufactured. They are, by design, liable to output drops which are far too big for the eye to handle in the first place.

That’s why Nanodropper created an adaptor that reduces the size of drops to only what the eye can absorb. An adaptor safeguards your eye health, preserves your eye drop supply, and makes aiming a cinch. 

*As always, consult your eye doctor if you have questions regarding your eye health, or the use of a Nanodropper with your eyedrops.

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