Eyedrops and Expiration Dates

Eye drops and their effectiveness after they have expired

Expired medication such as expired eye drops can be dangerous to use past their expiration date.

While reading the minuscule writing on medication bottles’ labels may be almost painful, it’s worth a second look if it means you could be using expired eye drops.  While it may go without saying, your eyes and vision are extremely important. Likewise the eye drops you instill can have a serious affect on your ocular health.

In 1979 a law passed requiring drug manufactures to label medications with their expiration date, guaranteeing 100% potency and effectiveness at the time of purchase until the date listed. While some medications may not necessarily become hazardous or unsafe after the expiration date, certain medications, such as diabetic or antibiotic drugs, may degrade or decay extremely quickly. Expired medications that change in color or consistency or begin to emit an irregular odor should be discarded.

While in most cases using expired eye drops may not cause instant or permanent damage, doctors and the FDA do not recommend ever using expired medication and using eye drops past their expiration can have serious implications on your eye health and. For example, if you’re using eye drops for glaucoma, such as Xalatan, expired drops may lose their ability to maintain your interocular eye pressure within a healthy range even if instilled regularly as prescribed.  By using up every last bit of that expired bottle, you may subjecting your vision to unnecessary risk. Similarly, if dust and dander have you rummaging through your cabinets looking for a bottle of allergy eye drops such as Zaditor, using an expired bottle may not actually provide any relief for your itchy, watery eyes and you may be suffering from allergy symptoms for longer than necessary.

Improper medication storage can be just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than using expired medication. Drug manufacturers are required to test the shelf-life of medications under normal conditions. The closed-container conditions in which researchers test medication potency mimics the environment in which the medication will be bought and sold, normally standard containers stored in a cool, dry place. Once a package seal is broken and the container is opened, the effectiveness and potency of a drug begins to decline.  The shelf-life of medication exposed to heat, sunlight or moisture is exponentially shorter and should be discarded immediately even if it is before the expiration date. For example, storing medication in the warm and humid environment of a bathroom speeds up the degradation of the drug.

Store your medications in a cool, dry place and check expiration dates regularly. For any questions regarding the proper storage regulations for any eye drops, speak with your Morris Eye Group optometrist or ophthalmologist at your next visit

Leave a Reply