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Your optometrist may need to use eye drops during your eye examination. The main types of eye drops used by optometrists during appointments are explained below.

Local anaesthetic eye drops

Local anaesthetics allow your optometrist to measure eye pressure or remove a foreign body painlessly by numbing the surface of the eye.

Common local anaesthetic eye drops are:

  • lidocaine
  • oxybuprocaine
  • proxymetacaine
  • tetracaine.

The drops take about 60 seconds to work and the effect may last for up to 25 minutes. They may sting briefly at first.

  • Do not rub your eyes.
  • Avoid getting dust or grit in your eye.
  • If you wear contact lenses do not put them back in until your optometrist tells you it is safe to do so.

In the unlikely event that you experience any unusual symptoms such as pain or soreness in or around your eyes or your vision seems blurred, contact your optometrist or seek medical advice as you might be experiencing an adverse reaction to the drops.

Cyclopentolate eye drops

Cyclopentolate 0.5% or 1% eye drops are commonly used on children. The drops allow the optometrist to obtain a more accurate reading of the focusing power of your child’s eyes by stopping them focusing on objects close to them. They also widen the pupil of their eye.

The drops take about 30 minutes to work and the effect may last for up to 24 hours. Your child should not undertake potentially hazardous activities such as cycling until their vision has returned to normal.

Having large pupils will make your child more sensitive to light, especially if it is sunny. Objects close to them will appear blurred and they may have difficulty seeing their schoolwork clearly. They should be able to see close work again after one to two hours. Sometimes distant objects might also seem blurred.

In the unlikely event that your child experiences any unusual symptoms contact your optometrist or seek medical advice as your child might be experiencing an adverse reaction to the drops. Unusual symptoms include:

  • pain and redness in or around their eyes
  • feeling disorientated
  • incoherent speech
  • visual disturbances
  • racing pulse or palpitations.

Tropicamide eye drops

Tropicamide eye drops allow your optometrist to view the inside of your eye more easily by making the pupils wider than normal.

The drops take about 15 to 30 minutes to work and the effect may last for up to six hours. Occasionally the effect may last until the next day.

You should not undertake hazardous activities such as driving, cycling or operating heavy machinery while your vision is affected.

Having large pupils will make you more sensitive to light, especially if it is sunny, and your vision might be slightly blurred.

In the unlikely event that you experience any unusual symptoms such as feeling unwell or having pain and redness in or around your eyes or your vision seems misty (as though you are looking through a veil or a fogged up window), contact your optometrist or seek medical advice as you might be experiencing an adverse reaction to the drops.


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