Everyone knows that you shouldn’t put ear drops in your eye, right? But what happens when your doctor prescribes ear drops for a nasty eye infection, then what do you do?
After 3 days of wondering why the tiny little muscles in my eye felt like they’d been doing bench presses I finally called my doctor. She was out but another doctor in the clinic could see me right away. Dr L performed the usual diagnostics, getting up close and personal to blind me with a penlight, poking and proding, and confirmed that I had an eye infection. He prescribed drops.
Clutching the prescription (which I had not read) and 2 chocolate covered donuts I waited patiently outside of Timmy’s for my daughter Kelly to pick me up. Without my contacts and in my useless coke bottle glasses I can’t see three feet ahead of me let alone to drive. Kelly plucked me from the curb and we went to the Co-op pharmacy. As I loitered behind the red line, ostensibly there to protect my privacy but really there to keep the hoi polloi from stampeding the pharmacist, I finally read the prescription. “Instill 2 drops twice a day into the affected ear(s)”. Ears???
The pharmacist, a charming young woman, was convinced this was an error and called the doctor to sort it out. Yes, I thought, it must be a mistake, the doctor was chatting with me when he entered the prescription into his computer and we all know that men are hopeless at multi-tasking. But no, Dr L confirmed his original decision—he did indeed prescribe ear drops for my eye problem. Hmmm.
The pharmacist gamely went about preparing the prescription while Kelly and I wandered through the deli picking up samosas for lunch and commenting on the old guy eating grapes straight out of the bag and putting it back. Note to self: never ever eat grapes without sterilizing them first.
Kelly and I were daring each other to stick an arm in the blood pressure cuff (it’s a machine, what if it won’t stop inflating and nips your arm right off) when the pharmacist called us over. She carefully explained that she’d never heard of a doctor prescribing ear drops for an eye problem, she’d scoured the internet and found absolutely no examples of this usage, she warned me to be very careful because the Ph balance in ear drops is significantly stronger than what you’d find in eye drops, if I noticed any redness or irritation I should discontinue usage immediately. All the while her eyes were saying “For god’s sake don’t put this stuff in your eye!”
Slightly unnerved I headed straight home and put that stuff in my eye. When I regained consciousness…no, just kidding. After 3 days of inflammation, oozing and goofy jokes from my co-workers—should I speak into your good eye?—I’d had enough. I stopped using the drops and went to the Richmond Walk-In Clinic. There I met the wonderful Dr K. When I told him I’d been prescribed ear drops and actually used them for 3 days he looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. He tossed the drops contemptuously into the trash and wrote out a new prescription for, you guessed it, eye drops for my eye problem. I’m now on the mend.
- The “white coat” syndrome is more powerful than gravity…you need to work very hard to overcome it when a situation is going off the rails.
- Always read your prescription at the doctor’s office and make the doctor explain anything that doesn’t make sense.
- Even if the explanation makes sense (sort of) pay close attention to your pharmacist, she may know more about medications and how they interact with your body than your physician.
- When all else fails—use common sense and get a second opinion.
For heaven’s sake, everyone knows that you can’t treat an eye infection with ear drops!