Diclofenac eye drops (Voltarol Ophtha)

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Tell your doctor before using the drops if you are allergic to aspirin or to medicines called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Use one drop four times daily, unless you have been told otherwise by your doctor.

The most common side-effect of the drops is eye discomfort (pain or irritation). This quickly passes.
Type of medicineA non-steroidal anti-inflammatory eye drop
Used forBefore an operation, to help prevent the pupil becoming smaller during surgery; after eye surgery or laser treatment, to ease pain and discomfort; allergic eye conditions such as hay fever
Also calledVoltarol® Ophtha
Available asEye drops (multi-dose) and single-dose units

Diclofenac belongs to a group of medicines known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). You will be prescribed the eye drops for one of the following reasons.

  • Diclofenac eye drops are used short-term to relieve pain and swelling which can be caused by eye surgery (for example, cataract surgery and laser surgery).
  • Diclofenac eye drops are used during eye surgery, to prevent the pupil of the eye from becoming smaller.
  • Diclofenac eye drops are prescribed to relieve eye symptoms of seasonal allergies such as hay fever.

To make sure this is the right treatment for you, before you start using the eye drops it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine. It is particularly important that you tell your doctor if you know you are allergic to an NSAID such as naproxen or ibuprofen, or if you have ever had a bad reaction to aspirin.
  • If you have a tendency to bleed easily.
  • If you know you have an eye infection.
  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you are taking any other medicines or using any other eye drops. This includes any medicines or creams which are available to buy without a prescription, as well as herbal and complementary medicines.

Before you start the treatment, read the manufacturer's printed information leaflet from inside the pack. It will give you more information about the eye drops and will also provide you with a full list of the side-effects which you could experience from using them.

How to use eye drops

  1. First wash your hands.
  2. Remove the cap (or the tip of the unit if you are using a single-dose unit).
  3. Tilt your head back a little and pull the lower lid of your eye downwards to form a pocket.
  4. Hold the bottle (or single-dose unit) upside down near to your eye. Try not to touch your eye as you do this.
  5. Gently apply enough pressure to release one drop into your eye.
  6. 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.
  7. Repeat the process in your other eye if you have been told to use the drops in both eyes.
  8. Replace the cap (or if you are using the single-dose unit, throw it away).
  • Use the drops exactly as your doctor tells you to. As a guide, the usual dose is one drop four times a day. If you are having eye surgery, you will probably be asked to start using the drops before the procedure, and then to continue to use them for a few days afterwards. If you are using the drops for hay fever, continue to use them for as long as needed.
  • Take care not to touch your eye, fingers, or any other surface with the dropper of the bottle. This could contaminate the drops left in the bottle.
  • If your doctor has recommended you use another eye preparation as well as these drops, then leave at least five minutes between putting in diclofenac drops and the other preparation.
  • Remember to use the drops at regular intervals and try not to miss any doses. If you do forget, use them as soon as you remember (unless it is nearly time for your next dose, in which case just use the drops when they are next due). Do not 'double up' to make up for forgetting to use the drops.
  • Try to keep any appointments which have been booked for you with the eye clinic. This is so your doctor can check on your progress.
  • There is a preservative present in bottles of diclofenac eye drops which can affect soft contact lenses, so do not wear contact lenses while you are using the drops unless your doctor has advised you otherwise. Following eye surgery, your doctor will recommend you use glasses for a time if you normally wear contact lenses.
  • When first put in, eye drops can make your eyes water and may sometimes cause blurred vision. If this happens, it should quickly clear. Make sure you can see clearly again before you drive, or use tools or machines.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the ones associated with diclofenac. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with the eye drops. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Common diclofenac eye drop side-effectsWhat can I do if I experience this?
Eye pain, eye irritationThis can happen soon after applying the drops. It should pass quickly

Bottles of eye drops contain preservatives which some people can develop an allergic reaction to. If your eye becomes red or inflamed after using the drops, contact your doctor for advice.

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the eye drops, speak with a doctor or pharmacist. 

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
  • Bottles of eye drops only keep for four weeks once the bottle has been opened. Dispose of the bottle after this time, even if there is still some solution remaining. This will help prevent the risk of eye infections. Single-dose units do not contain a preservative and should be disposed of immediately after use.

This preparation is for use in the eyes only. If someone swallows some of it, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

If you are having an operation or dental treatment, tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are using.

If you buy any medicines check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take with your other medicines.

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

  • British National Formulary; 71st Edition (Mar-Sep 2016) 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.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Hannah Gronow
Document ID:
28489 (v2)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
The Information Standard - certified member

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