Atropine eye drops allow your doctor to examine your eye more easily.
The drops can cause blurred vision which may last for several hours. Do not drive or use tools or machines until your vision is clear again.
About atropine eye drops
|Type of medicine||An antimuscarinic|
|Used for||To make the pupil of your eye larger and relax the muscles in your eye|
|Also called||Minims® Atropine Sulphate|
|Available as||Bottles of eye drops and single-dose units (Minims®)|
Atropine makes the pupil of your eye larger and relaxes the muscles in your eye. These things make it easier for your eye to be examined and your vision tested. It is commonly prescribed for young children who need eye tests.
Atropine drops can also be prescribed during the treatment of a condition called anterior uveitis. This is a painful eye condition caused by inflammation within the eye. By making your pupil larger and relaxing the muscles in your eye, it reduces pain and allows the inflamed part of your eye to rest and recover.
Before using atropine eye drops
To make sure this is the right treatment for you, before you use the drops it is important that your doctor knows:
- If you have ever had an allergic reaction to any eye drops.
- If you normally wear contact lenses.
- If you have been told you have a higher than normal pressure in your eye, or if you have glaucoma.
- If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
- If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
How to use atropine eye drops
Atropine eye drops will generally be administered for you, but if you are asked to put the drops in yourself, then:
- Wash your hands well before you use the drops.
- Remove the cap (or twist off the tip of the unit if you are using a Minims® single-dose unit).
- Tilt your head back a little and pull the lower lid of your eye out to form a pocket.
- Hold the bottle (or single-dose unit) upside down near to your eye. Try not to touch your eye as you do this.
- Apply enough pressure to the container to release one drop into your eye. Only use a second drop if the first drop missed going into your eye.
- Close your eye for a minute or two, and press gently on the side of your nose where the corner of your eye meets your nose. This helps to stop the drop from draining away and keeps it in your eye.
- Repeat the process in your other eye if you have been told to use the drops in both eyes. (The contents of one single-dose Minims® are enough for both eyes.)
- Replace the cap (or if you are using the single-dose unit, throw it away).
Getting the most from your treatment
- Before you start using the eye drops, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from the pack. It will give you more information about the drops and will provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from using them.
- Take care not to touch your eye, fingers, or any other surface with the dropper of the bottle. This could infect the liquid left in the bottle.
- Atropine will cause blurred vision which may last for some time. Make sure you can see clearly again before you drive, or use tools or machines.
- If you are using any other eye drops or ointments, leave about ten minutes between applying each one. This is to prevent more liquid going into your eye than it can handle. Otherwise the drops will overflow from your eye and may not have the intended effect.
- If you normally wear contact lenses, do not wear them again until your doctor advises you do so. There are two reasons for this - using atropine will mean you are not able to see clearly, and also bottles of eye drops contain a preservative which can affect soft contact lenses.
Can atropine eye drops cause problems?
Along with their useful effects, eye drops can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains the most common ones associated with atropine eye drops. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your drops. Unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to a new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.
|Atropine eye drops side-effects||What can I do if I experience this?|
|Eye irritation such as mild stinging||This should soon pass|
|Large pupil, blurred vision, difficulty with focusing||These may last for several hours. Do not drive or operate machinery until your vision is clear again|
|Less common effects: dry mouth, flushing, dry skin, constipation, difficulties passing urine, and a fast heartbeat||These should soon pass, but if you become concerned about any, speak with your doctor|
Occasionally people can be allergic to eye drops, particularly if the eye drops contain a preservative. If you notice a rash around your eyes, or any swelling or itching, stop using the drops and contact a doctor for advice. If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the eye drops, speak with your doctor or pharmacist for further advice.
How to store atropine eye drops
- Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
- Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
- Eye drops only keep for four weeks once the bottle has been opened so throw away the bottle after this time, even if there is some solution left. Never keep opened bottles of eye drops to use later. This will help to prevent the risk of eye infections.
- Minims® contain one dose of atropine only. Do not store or re-use opened units to use at a later time.
Important information about all medicines
If you buy any medicines check with a pharmacist that they are safe to use with your other medicines.
Never use more than the recommended dose.
If you suspect that someone has swallowed some of this medicine by accident, contact the accident and emergency department of your local hospital for advice.
If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are using.
This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.
Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.
If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.
Further reading & references
- Manufacturer's PIL, Minims® Atropine Sulphate; Bausch & Lomb U.K Limited, The electronic Medicines Compendium. Dated September 2007.
- British National Formulary; 68th Edition (Sep 2014) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London
Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.
Prof Cathy Jackson