Do Eye Drops Expire?

Eye drops are used to relieve or treat a variety of issues. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, or AAO, eye drop uses can range from dilating a person's eyes for an exam, relieving red eyes and dryness, antibiotic drops for infections, allergy drops, and more. They are available in liquid form, and the exact amount of drops to be used depends on the product. Some eye drops are available over-the-counter while others require a prescription from the doctor's office. For example, artificial tears, which are used to lubricate the eyes, are available without a prescription.

How you apply eye drops into your eye can affect how the drops work, Healthline reports. When the liquid hits the eyeball, your eye then absorbs the medicine to make it effective. If you don't get the proper dosage in your eye fully, you risk the drops not working for your issue. Aside from eye drops, keep tissues close by to catch any tears or liquid. Simply pull down the eyelid after washing and drying your hands, tilt your head back, then turn the dropper upside down above the eye and drop the recommended dosage in.

What to do with expired eye drops

Many times, eye drops are forgotten in the medicine cabinet until we need them again; however, this isn't the safest practice if the eye drops are expired. According to Insider, eye drops do have expiration dates, and they should be followed closely to avoid infection. Eye drops come into close contact with eyes, and because aerosol products can become contaminated over time, this puts the eyes at risk of coming into contact with bacteria. Typically, eye drop bottles are labeled with an expiration date, but you can always check with your doctor, too.

In addition to the possibility of bacteria breeding, the ingredients in the eye drops can become compromised. Plaza Vision Optometry reports once a bottle of eye drops is opened, the exposure to oxygen can begin to slowly change the composition of the ingredients, both active and inactive. This means the eye drops won't be as effective after they're expired, and you risk irritating your eyes.