Can You Drink Alcohol If Using Medicated Eye Drops?

In our latest question and answer, the pharmacist discusses whether or not you can drink alcohol if using medicated ophthalmic drops (i.e. eye drops).

Question

Hello! I received a prescription for Prednisolone ac eye drops and Olopatadine hcl eye drops from my doctor for dry eyes. I have a wedding this weekend and would like to know if I am able to drink alcohol while using the eye drops. Thank you

Asked by Elise On Sep 22, 2022

Answered by
Medical Content Reviewed By HelloPharmacist Staff

Published Sep 22, 2022
Last updated Sep 22, 2022

Key points

  • Drug absorption from medicated eye drops is generally minimal (often less than 10% of a given dose), but some must be used cautiously if you have certain disease states (e.g. beta-blockers if you have asthma).
  • There are no known major interactions between alcohol and medicated eye drops.

Answer

Most eye drops are not absorbed systemically to a significant extent and therefore, there is less of a concern with drug interactions (like with alcohol) or contraindications when compared to oral medications.

Nevertheless, multiple studies show that there is at least some absorption with ocular medications and certain eye drops may need to be used cautiously. One example is eye drops that are classified as "beta-blockers". They theoretically could exacerbate breathing problems in asthmatics and at least one study has reported cardiovascular effects with the eye drop timolol.

Below is a flowchart detailing how systemic drug absorption can occur from eye drops:

Opthlamic Drug Absorption Flowchart

Source: Clinical Ophthalmology 

So, if you are using ophthalmic eye drops, while interactions and contraindications will be uncommon, it is important to ask your doctor or pharmacist about any problems you might have with other drugs you are taking or concomitant illnesses you may have.

Additionally, it is very important to apply eye drops correctly, as doing so can greatly reduce systemic absorption. Be sure to follow proper administration methods.

In regard to the two eye drops you specifically mentioned, there are no reports of interactions with alcohol.

Prednisolone AC And Alcohol

Prednisolone AC is a commonly used ophthalmic steroid. It is absorbed through the aqueous humor, but is reported to have minimal systemic absorption and the majority of drug metabolism occurs locally in the eye. There isn't thought to be any interaction with prednisolone AC when used in the eye and alcohol.

Olopatadine And Alcohol

Olopatadine, an ophthalmic antihistamine, is not extensively absorbed when administered in the eye and is not thought to cause sedation or drowsiness, like many oral antihistamines. There are no reports of interactions with alcohol.

Final Words

Thanks for your question and reach back out anytime.

References

  • Systemic side effects of eye drops: a pharmacokinetic perspective, PubMed
  • Cardiovascular effects of ophthalmic timolol, PubMed

About the Pharmacist

Dr. Brian Staiger, PharmD

Dr. Brian has been practicing pharmacy for over 11 years and has wide-ranging experiences in many different areas of the profession. From retail, clinical and administrative responsibilities, he's your knowledgeable and go-to source for all your pharmacy and medication-related questions! Feel free to send him an email at Hello@HelloPharmacist.com! You can also connect with Dr. Brian Staiger on LinkedIn.

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