Chemotherapeutic Eye Drops 101

If you’ve been recently diagnosed with an eye cancer, such as ocular surface squamous neoplasia or conjunctival melanoma, it’s normal to feel a little nervous – but, there’s good news. It is possible to treat some of these cancers with topical chemotherapy eye drops, like interferon alpha (also called Intron A), instead of surgery. Interferon is commonly used in injection form; however, in 2008 Dr. Finger and his team discovered that interferon in topical eye drop form is very effective at treating tumors on the eye.  It also has the additional benefit of causing fewer side effects in the body!

The following video demonstrates the proper technique for chemotherapeutic eye drop instillation.  These instructions will be the same regardless of the type of chemotherapy eye drop you are using (e.g. Intron A, Mitomycin C, 5-FU).  It’s fine to ask a family member or friend for help, but most people find that they are able to put drops in themselves without a problem.

The New York Eye Cancer Center Instructions for Chemotherapy Eye Drops from Paul T Finger on Vimeo.

The steps are written out below, for your convenience:

  • STEP 1:  Wash your hands and put on latex gloves, if possible. 
  • STEP 2: Lie down flat or recline back in a chair.   
  • STEP 3: Look DOWN and pull back the UPPER EYELID. 
  • STEP 4: Put the drop on the TOP part of the eye.   
  • STEP 5: Slowly close your eye and keep it closed for FIVE MINUTES.   
  • STEP 6: Make sure to gently wipe away any excess. 
  • STEP 7: Wash your hands again. 

Note that it’s easier to instill these drops when you are lying down.  Also, remember to keep these drops refrigerated and to wipe any excess that you may blink out to prevent irritation of the skin.  Most patients tolerate these drops very well, but if you have any concerns or comments, please make sure to speak with your doctor.

Stay tuned for more educational videos by keeping in your bookmarks!

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