Can I Use Expired Eye Drops
When you apply a new bottle of eye drops, you expect them to work for as long as they need to do in order to clear up or prevent any vision problems. Unfortunately, not all medications are created equally — some expire sooner than others. In fact, expired medication can actually cause more harm than good because it’s been altered by sunlight or other environmental factors that affect its stability. But just how much does an expired medicine hurt? And what happens if you use an old drop on a new prescription? Is there anything wrong with using an older version of an eye drop on a newer prescription?
Eye drops fall into two categories — preservatives (such as methylparaben) and natural preservatives (such as vitamin E). Preservatives help protect eye drops from bacteria that could make them unusable. These chemicals can also slow down the growth of fungi and molds, which can spoil the solution. If you suspect you have gotten hold of an expired drug, test it out first before applying it to your eyes. Simply put a small amount onto your fingertip; if it irritates your skin, it will most likely be painful when used anywhere else.
The active ingredients in eye drops are very sensitive to light, heat and oxygen. When exposed to these elements, drugs become less potent. This means that after opening a new box of eye drops, you should store them away from direct sunlight and extreme temperatures. Store bottles upright and avoid keeping them near a window or heater/cooler unit. Also, don’t expose them to high humidity. You’ll want to take extra precaution with eyedrops left open, since moisture can speed up this process. Once opened, store eye drops in the refrigerator until you’re ready to administer them.
Now let’s look at whether you can use an outdated drop on a new prescription. First things first — check the label. Some doctors prescribe different types of eye drops for different conditions. For example, one type might treat dry eyes while another treats redness caused by rosacea. Even though both have similar names, they serve completely separate functions. So the next time you go to pick up your prescription, pay attention to the instructions printed on each individual container. You’re looking for three numbers: 1) the active ingredient(s), 2) strength and 3) quantity per application. If you don’t see those numbers on the packaging, call your physician’s office and ask about dosage amounts.
If you’re feeling brave, try mixing together two solutions. One solution could contain the active ingredient from your current prescription. The second could consist of the same active ingredient mixed with a stronger dose. Just remember to follow the directions on the prescription exactly so you don’t end up overdosing yourself.
The bottom line here is simple — never use expired eye drops. Using an expired medication can increase your chances of developing an eye infection, among other health risks. That said, if you happen to find yourself in possession of an expired drop, read on to discover what to do.
Expired Drug Solutions
You’ve got to know when to quit smoking. Smoking causes lung cancer and heart disease, and now we know that it can also damage the cornea. Unfortunately, smokers who want to stop but who haven’t yet given up the habit often turn to nicotine patches and gum to ease cravings. While these products may help reduce nicotine intake, they may also give off unpleasant smells. Smelling tobacco products can trigger allergic reactions in people who are already suffering from allergies. And the chemicals found in cigarettes can burn the delicate tissues around our eyes.
To get rid of cigarette smoke smell, rub a little baby powder on your face and then wash it off. Or better yet, wear a bandana soaked in eucalyptus oil instead. If you’re really desperate, try putting cotton balls dipped in vodka under your nose. Vodka can neutralize dangerous toxins like formaldehyde. Another option is to dab a mixture of water and vinegar on your face. Vinegar has antiseptic properties that can fight bacteria buildup.
It’s easy to think that expired eye drops are harmless. After all, expired eye drops aren’t going to kill you. However, it’s possible to develop eye infections from expired medications. Eye infections occur when harmful microorganisms such as fungus or bacteria enter the body through the eyes. As soon as you notice signs of infection, consult your doctor immediately.
On the following page, learn why you shouldn’t share your eye drops with anyone.
Sharing Eye Drops With Others
Let’s say you decide to mix up your own homemade remedies to save money. Perhaps you’ve heard that mixing salt with sugar makes a great cleaning agent for pots and pans, so you figure it would be helpful for getting stains off dirty dishes, too. Well, guess again! Salt and sugar react badly with many common eye drops. Your homemade concoction could wreak havoc on your eyesight.
In addition, sharing your eye drops with someone who doesn’t use them correctly could result in unwanted side effects. Although eye drops may seem harmless enough, they can still cause allergic reactions, especially if you share them with someone who’s allergic to certain medicines. To avoid potentially serious complications, always dispose of used eye drops properly. Never flush them down the toilet. Instead, throw them away in special containers designed specifically for that purpose. Otherwise, the drops can leak back into drinking water supplies, posing a threat to infants and young children.
For additional information on home remedies and related topics, visit the links on the following page.
Although they may sound alike, eye drops differ from eye ointments. Ointments usually contain higher concentrations of nutrients than eye drops. They’re thicker and last longer. Most ointments aren’t applied directly to the eye surface, either. Instead, they’re rubbed into the eyelid crease where they absorb easily. Ointments tend to be gentler on the eye surface because they dilute themselves against the mucous membrane layer. This combination allows ointments to penetrate deeper than eye drops. Ointments are best suited for treating minor eye ailments or making the area feel softer.
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