Willoughby Doctors of Optometry
130, 20728 Willoughby Town Centre Dr Langley Twp BC V2Y 0P3 (604) 371-1214
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(604) 256-7681

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Langley, BC

Can You Use Expired Eye Drops?

Close up of a younger woman applying eye drops to her right eye.

If you regularly use eye drops, whether for dry eyes or allergies, then there’s a high chance that, at some point, you’ve come across an old bottle of drops buried in the depths of your medicine cabinet. You may have wondered if it’s safe to use them or if they can still provide relief even though they expired months ago. 

The thought of putting something expired into your delicate eye area can be a bit daunting and raise concerns about potential harm. We’ll discuss the truth behind expired eye drops and why you should not use expired eye drops. Let’s learn more about these essential products for our daily comfort and how expiration dates affect their effectiveness in dealing with dry eyes and other irritants.

What Are Eye Drops & How Do They Work?

Eye drops are a commonly used prescription or over-the-counter medication formulated to be applied directly to the eyes. They can work to address a range of ocular symptoms, including dryness, allergies, infection, and glaucoma. Eye drops release active ingredients into the eye, which can then be absorbed by the surrounding tissues and provide targeted relief. 

Eye drops can help maintain healthy eyes and prevent uncomfortable or damaging conditions from worsening. If you’re experiencing eye discomfort or symptoms like itching and redness, eye drops may offer the relief you need to see the world clearly again.

Expiration Dates on Eye Drops

Have you ever wondered why eye drops have expiration dates? It’s quite simple. Eye drops, like any other medication, have a limited shelf life before the chemical composition starts to break down. 

This breakdown can make the medication less effective or even harmful over time. That’s why it’s important to always check the expiration date on your eye drops before using them. 

Generally, eye drops can last anywhere from 1–3 years, with some brands boasting an even longer shelf life. However, opened eye drops lose their sterility and should be tossed in the trash after three months.

As long as you store them properly (in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight), you can rest assured knowing that your eye drops will be effective until their expiration date. So use them confidently, knowing you’re taking the necessary steps for proper eye care.

Tips for Prolonging the Shelf Life of Your Eye Drops

The first thing to consider is how you store your eye drops. By keeping them in a cool and dry place, away from sunlight and moisture, you’re helping to prevent the breakdown of the active ingredients. 

Additionally, always make sure to screw the cap on tightly after use to prevent contamination that can cause bacteria growth. 

If you’re using eye drops with a preservative, be aware that the effectiveness of the preservative diminishes after opening, so it’s recommended you discard it after a month or so. 

Risks of Using Expired Eye Drops

When it comes to our eyes, we need to be extra cautious about what we put in them. Using expired eye drops is not only ineffective but can also be harmful to our vision. The risks associated with using expired eye drops can include: 

  • Potential contamination
  • Breakdown of preservatives
  • Reduced potency
  • Ineffective treatment of conditions
  • Increased risk of infection 

As long as you dispose of expired eye drops and replace them with new ones, you’ll be doing your eyes a great favour. So, always check the expiration date before using any eye drops.

How to Tell If Your Eye Drops Have Gone Bad

When it comes to eye drops, it’s essential to be sure they’re still effective before you use them. One telltale sign that your eye drops may have gone bad is that they’ve changed in consistency. If they look cloudy or discoloured or seem thicker or thinner than they used to be, it’s probably time to toss them out.

Another thing to look out for is the expiration date on the packaging. If your eye drops have expired, they may not work as well as they should. Just be sure to pick up a fresh bottle, and you’ll be good to go!

A man in an optometry clinic shaking hands with his female optometrist

To Throw Away or Not to Throw Away?

Always consult a healthcare professional for any concerns about using expired medications like eye drops. In general, you should always throw away expired eye drops. They can cause irritation, inflammation, and even an eye infection.

Contact us at Willoughby Doctors of Optometry for further information. And, if you are looking for optometry services such as an eye exam, book an appointment today.

Our Practice

We would love to meet you in person.

Drop by our office and say hello. We require 24 hrs notice for cancelled appointments or a reasonable $50 no show fee will apply.

Willoughby Doctors of Optometry

130 - 20728 Willoughby Town Centre
Langley, BC V2Y 0P3

Contact Information

Phone: 604-371-1214
Fax: 604-371-1215
Email: [email protected]

Clinic Hours

Monday 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Tuesday 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Wednesday 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Thursday 9:00 AM - 7:30 PM
Friday 9:00 AM - 5:30 PM
Saturday 9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Sundays Closed

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