Kids can suffer from many of the same eye problems adults do and to treat them, there are several different types of eye drops for children. Eye drops are available in over-the-counter formulations as well as by prescription. The most important difference between eye drops for children and drops for adults is the formulation and dosage. For example, infants require only half of an adult dose of the same solution and children ages three to 12 approximately 2/3 of an adult dose. Over-the-counter formulations usually provide dosage instructions for appropriate ages, but prescription eye drops for adults should not be administered to children.
The variations of over-the-counter eye drops typically treat things like redness and itching. Redness of the eye is not uncommon in children, especially older children who are more prone to suffer eye strain from excess screen time and lack of sleep. Allergens may also cause redness of the eye, along with itching and watering. There are numerous brand name and store brand eye drops for children that treat these symptoms. If allergens are suspected, drops containing an antihistamine may be appropriate. Drops without antihistamine ingredients typically contain a decongestant such as tetrahydrozoline, which provides relief for redness. Over-the-counter drops are also available that contain lubricant ingredients and provide short-term relief of dry eye.
When eye problems are persistent or are caused by bacteria or viral contaminants, prescription eye drops may be necessary. One of the more common eye problems in children is conjunctivitis, better known as pink eye. This inflammation of the eyelid is typically caused by infection in the eyelid membrane and requires antibiotic treatment. Antibiotic eye drops for children are prescribed based on age and may not be the same formulation as for an adult. Instead of drops, a doctor may prescribe an eye ointment containing an antibiotic. In either case, sharing prescription eye drops or ointment is considered unsafe.
Other types of eye drops for children may be obtained for more severe or less common eye problems. Drops containing either corticosteroids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs may be prescribed for inflammation. Antiviral eye drops are prescribed to treat herpes of the eye. Drops containing mast cell stabilizers may also be prescribed for treatment of severe allergic reactions affecting the eye.
The proper administration of eye drops is essential to their function. Eye drops for children can be difficult to administer, especially if the child is young, afraid or easily irritated. Most eye drops usually follow a prescribed course and should be followed precisely to produce the desired outcome. Medical devices that aid in eye drop administration are available at some pharmacies and medical supply retailers. Ask the prescribing doctor or pharmacist for an eye drop dispenser. For safety reasons, do not allow the tip of the eye dropper to touch the eye and do not use drops prescribed for adults on children or administer more drops than recommended.