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Information about inserting your child’s Atropine eye drops at home

Patient information A-Z

Why have you provided me with Atropine eye drops for my child?

Either your child’s eyes are very dark and they have taken a long time for the pupils to dilate, extending your time in this clinic, or your child became very distressed when the nurse tried to insert the eye drops.

Inserting the drops at home could well make your next appointment more pleasant for both you and your child.

What does Atropine do?

Atropine has two effects when inserted in the eyes:

  • Dilates the pupil (makes the black dot in the middle of the eye larger).
  • Stops the eye from focusing properly, which blurs the child’s near (or close up) vision.

How long do the effects of the Atropine last?

Atropine will cause blurred vision which may last up to seven days or more after using it. The pupil may also remain dilated for up to 14 days.

Urgent advice: Side effects and warnings

  • Do not use atropine if your child suffers from heart problems or has a high fever.
  • It will make the dilated eye sensitive to light so avoid bright light. Wearing sunglasses and/or a sun hat may help.
  • Your child may feel a little discomfort when initially inserted, although the drops do not sting.
  • Tell your ophthalmologist (the doctor you see in clinic) if your child is taking any other medication.
  • If your child becomes hot and complains of a sore throat, becomes irritable or develops any of the following symptoms: a rash, headaches, nausea/vomiting, stop using the atropine and seek medical advice immediately.

Non-urgent advice: How should I insert the Atropine drops?

  1. Wash your hands.
  2. Gently pull down the lower eyelid of the eye with your finger to create a little ‘pocket’/recess in which to place the drop.
  3. Insert one drop of Atropine into the ‘pocket’/recess.
  4. Release the eyelid.
  5. Press gently on the inner corner of the eye (by the side of the nose) for about one minute. This will avoid the solution draining away into the nose and then being absorbed systemically.
  6. Always wash your hands and your child’s hands after using the drops to avoid it being taken internally.
  7. Repeat the procedure as advised below in the “how often should I insert the eye drops” section.
  8. If you should misplace the eye drops contact the paediatric ophthalmology nurses or clinic 3.
  9. The Atropine eye drops can be inserted whilst your child is asleep, which you may find easier.

Urgent advice: It is important that you

  • Do not use the Atropine beyond the expiry date.
  • Store the Atropine in a dry place, away from strong light and below 25°C (room temperature). For example, in the fridge.
  • Keep all medicines out of the reach of children.


Atropine is poisonous if taken internally.

How often should I instil the eye drops?

Please follow the instructions below:

Insert one drop into each eye in the evening before your child’s appointment and on the morning of their appointment.

Other ………………………………………………………………….

(to be completed by your healthcare professional if appropriate)

Further information

Paediatric ophthalmology nurses

Tel: 01223 596414.

Monday – Friday 08:00 – 17:00hrs (24hrs voicemail).

Clinic 3

Tel: 01223 806000 via call centre.

We are smoke-free

Smoking is not allowed anywhere on the hospital campus. For advice and support in quitting, contact your GP or the free NHS stop smoking helpline on 0800 169 0 169.

Other formats

Help accessing this information in other formats is available. To find out more about the services we provide, please visit our patient information help page (see link below) or telephone 01223 256998.

Contact us

Cambridge University Hospitals
NHS Foundation Trust
Hills Road, Cambridge

Telephone +44 (0)1223 245151