Administering Eye Drops As a Blind or Visually Impaired Parent

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by Holly Bonner, VisionAware Peer Advisor

When you are a parent who is blind or visually impaired, chances are you’re fairly used to administering eyes drops into your own eyes on a daily basis. However, when putting drops into the eyes of a squiggly infant or screaming toddler, it’s an entirely different ball game.

Eye drops provide medication directly into your children’s eyes. Doctors prescribe drops to pediatric patients for a variety of reasons, including infections like conjunctivitis (pink eye), dry eye, and seasonal allergies. Children dislike the sensation of having drops placed into their eyes for two reasons. First, eye drops will sometimes leave an unpleasant aftertaste in your child’s mouth, nose, and throat. Secondly, parents must often restrain their children to ensure the drops go into the eyes.

While restraining our children is often stressful for both parent and child, we have to remember the big picture: our children need this medication because they have an illness that must be treated. The following methods may help you administer your child's eye drops as a parent who is blind or visually impaired.

Method One: Car Seat Head Support

For infants birth to 12 months, parents who are blind or visually impaired may choose to use their rear-facing car seat as a way to safely administer eye drops. Children’s necks and skulls are extremely fragile during this period of development. Purchasing a car seat head support and strapping your child into their car seat, allows them to have good head positioning and may prevent injury.

Steps for Administering Eye Drops for Babies

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. If you have disposable gloves, you may also choose to wear them.

  2. Strap your child in their rear-facing car seat and position their head safely in the head support.

  3. If your child has any crusted material or residue around the eye, gently wipe it away with a warm washcloth. Make sure to use a different washcloth for each eye so as not to spread infection.

  4. Tilt the car seat slightly backward and put the prescribed number of drops in the corner of your infant’s eye, closest to the bridge of their nose.

  5. Make sure not to touch the dropper directly to your child’s eye, eyelashes, or eyelid to prevent infection.

  6. If both eyes require medication, give your baby a short break in between before repeating the process.

  7. Have a favorite pacifier, bottle, or soft toy nearby to help soothe your baby.

  8. Wash your hands throughout before removing your child from their car seat.

Method Two: Leg Work

mother holding child's head with legs to support head

Toddlers from 12 to 36 months will often be extremely fearful of eye drops and fight tooth and nail to prevent their parents from administering them. For this method, parents who are blind or visually impaired will rely on their legs to help support their child’s head as they put in their drops.

Steps for Administering Eye Drops for Toddlers

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. If you have disposable gloves, you may also choose to wear them.

  2. On the floor, have your child lie on their back. If you have hardwood floors, cushion your child underneath with either a towel or small area rug. Then place a pillow under your child’s shoulders or a rolled up towel under his neck so that their head is slightly tilted back.

  3. If your child has any crusted material or residue around the eye, gently wipe it away with a warm washcloth. As stated previously, be sure to use a different washcloth for each eye so as not to spread infection.

  4. If your toddler will not sit still, gently place your child’s arms under the calves of your legs and place the soles of your feet over each ear.

  5. Put the prescribed number of drops into your child’s eye.

  6. Make sure not to touch the dropper directly to your child’s eye, eyelashes, or eyelid to prevent infection.

  7. Don’t give your child a rest in between if you need to place drops in both eyes. The quicker you finish the task, the quicker they can resume their usual activity.

  8. Wash your hands thoroughly after application.

Method 3: Lower Lid/Seated Application

mother administering eye drop to child seated in chair using lower lid method

As your child gets older, you may be able to somewhat reason with them about their need for eye drops. Children ages 4 and up have the cognitive capability to understand they are unwell and need the medication their doctor has prescribed. Try explaining the procedure for administering eye drops to your child. Emphasize that with their cooperation, you can get the job done fairly quickly. If your child is agreeable, you may choose to use this method.

Steps for Administering Eye Drops for Children

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. If you have disposable gloves, you may also choose to wear them.

  2. Ask your child to move to a seated position and tilt their head slightly back.

  3. If your child has any crusted material or residue around the eye, gently wipe it away with a warm washcloth.

  4. Make sure to use a different washcloth for each eye so as not to spread infection.

  5. Place your pointer finger in the upper center of your child’s cheek. Using your finger, gently push down in this area, exposing your child’s lower eye lid.

  6. Prompt your child to look up.

  7. Put the prescribed number of drops between the lower part of each eyelid.

  8. Make sure not to touch the dropper directly to your child’s eye, eyelashes, or eyelid to prevent infection.

  9. Ask your child to blink, allowing the drops to coat the entire eye.

  10. Repeat the process in the opposite eye if necessary.

  11. Wash your hands thoroughly after application.

Method 4: The Buddy System

Two adults are definitely better than one when it comes to administering eye drops as a parent who is blind or visually impaired. Choose any of the above mentioned methodologies and just include an extra set of hands. Sometimes having a supportive voice to offer both you and your child emotional support makes the application less traumatic for all involved.


Read Holly's blog post about her personal experience with administering eye drops.

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