Comm Eye Health Vol. 18 No. 53 2005 pp 79. Published online 01 March 2005.

How to apply eye ointment

Sue Stevens

International Centre for Eye Health, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street , London WC1E 7HT, UK.

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  • To treat a superficial corneal injury with antibiotic
  • To deliver longer acting topical medication e.g.

    – in the case of a child

    – overnight, following medication by drop instillation during daytime

    – when an eye needs to be padded for long periods.

How to apply eye ointment. © Pak Sang Lee
How to apply eye ointment. © Pak Sang Lee

You will need

  • Clean swab or paper tissue
  • Prescribed eye ointment – produced in varying sizes and colours of tube.


  • Check that the ointment is not date-expired. This is not always easy to read on the actual tube so be careful to take time to do this. Some tubes also come in a box where the expiry date is easier to read.
  • Check the patient’s name and eye ointment against the prescription
  • Remove cap from nozzle
  • Ask the patient to look up.


  • With the index finger of one hand take a folded swab or tissue to gently hold down the lower eyelid
  • With the other hand take the tube of ointment and direct the nozzle towards the inner canthus
  • Squeeze tube slowly to allow about one centimetre to emerge in a thin line along the inside of the lower eyelid. (Rather like putting toothpaste on a toothbrush!). Do not touch the eye with the tube nozzle! Do not touch the eyelid skin or eyelashes with the tube nozzle – it will cease to be sterile and need to be discarded.
  • Wipe away any surplus ointment which may emerge when the patient closes the eye.


  • Secure the nozzle cap.