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Why do I taste my eye drops?

April 12, 2012

Have you experienced this before: Instilling eye drops into your eye and tasting the eye drops thereafter?

Why does it happen?

Tears are produce by the lacrimal gland and it flows on the surface of the eye to the lacrimal punctum (opening on the eyelid margin on the inner aspect of the eye). The tears then drain to the lacrimal sac and through the nasolacrimal duct into the nose. We then swallow the tears. Medicated eye drops will also go through this route into our throat, we therefore can taste the medication.

Is there a way to stop getting the taste of the eye drop?

Yes. The method is called punctal occlusion:

Instill the eye drop into your eye. Then use your finger to press on the bony structure between your nose bridge and the eye. You are actually pressing on the lacrimal sac (purple circle in the photo above).ย  This prevents the eye drop from reaching your nose. Press for about half a minute with your eyes closed. This should prevent you from tasting your eye drops. The photo below shows you where to press.

Let me know if it works. ๐Ÿ™‚

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. May 25, 2012 5:44 am

    Hi, Dr Lee Sao Bing !
    Greetings from Saint-Petersburg. Nice work. Exact at time, when I was seaching “eye drops how to” in google to see the picture of closing the eyes after droping.:) It would be quite useful for my patients.
    Here it is ๐Ÿ™‚

    • May 25, 2012 10:25 pm

      Hi Anton. I am happy to know that it has come in useful for you. You can tell your patients that the picture is of an eye doctor in Singapore. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • June 14, 2012 10:13 pm

        Just for you to know: u’ve made already quite a large number of my patients think and exclaim “I used to drop wrong way!!” ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. Anonymous ;) permalink
    June 10, 2012 10:06 pm

    It was also useful for me! I’ve got diagnosed viral conjunctivitis of one eye but as I the Dr also found a bit of keratitis prescribed me Tobrex until tomorrow’s revision. I wanted to know how practically block absorption through the lacrymal but I forgot to ask ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks from Brussels ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • June 13, 2012 9:44 pm

      Hi. Thanks for your comment. This method of occlusion will prevent you from tasting the eye drops. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. anonymos permalink
    November 7, 2012 1:08 pm

    Hi Good morning. Is it possible that my lacrimal sac is swollen or blocked due to anti-biotic eye drops? I feel that the eye drops are stock in my nose. however, i was not suffering from excessive tearing? Thanks.

    • November 7, 2012 7:22 pm

      Hi. Thanks for your question. Firstly, it wouldn’t be blocked due to the eye drop. It can be blocked due to previous inflammation or infection which then leads to scarring of the passage. When it gets blocked, you shouldn’t be able to feel it in your nose since the fluid cannot get into the nose; instead, it will lead to tearing as the tears cannot drain out through this passage.

  4. Tom permalink
    December 6, 2012 3:48 pm

    Hi i just want to inquire if there are side effects of antibiotic eye drops our nose such as heaviness or pressure in the nasal passage? If such a case what are the necessary treatment? Thanks.

    • December 6, 2012 10:18 pm

      Hi Tom,
      Antibiotic eye drops do not lead to heaviness or pressure in the nasal passage.

  5. February 25, 2013 10:21 am

    hemm…. I should read this earlier, the bitter taste of eye drop is quite suffering ><
    Thanks Dr~! ^^

  6. Marlyn permalink
    August 10, 2013 1:57 pm

    I am not a big fan of eye drops so I was wondering if an easier way to put them in is to tip my head back and close my eye and put the drop in the corner of my eye closest to my nose. Then tilt my head to the side and blink my eyes a few times is effective as well?

    • September 8, 2013 3:31 pm

      Hi Marlyn,
      So sorry for my late reply. I do not recommend that you apply the eye drop with your eyes closed. It’s better to tilt your head back, pull down the lower eyelid and instill the eye drop into your eye.

  7. Kristi permalink
    January 2, 2015 6:25 am

    Thank you very much for the information! I was tasting the antibiotic eye drops I had to use after my Lasik surgery and it was very unpleasant. Because of your suggestion to plug the lacrimal sac, I no longer have to deal with that unpalatable bitter side effect! I will pass this information onto my eye care team so that they may make the same suggestion to other patients. You have saved many from this annoying distastefulness!

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