Cyclopentolate eye drops for pre-dilation before an appointment

You have been given Cyclopentolate 1% eye drops to be used in your child’s eyes on the day of their next visit.

These drops are used to widen the pupil (black central area of the eye) and relax the muscles inside the eye that control the focusing. This will enable us to examine the inside of the eyes and measure whether there is a need for glasses. This information aims to answer any questions you may have. If you are still unsure about anything, please contact the orthoptics department. Contact details are listed towards the end of this page.

Important - if your child has a temperature on the day of their clinic appointment,please do not use the drops and telephone the orthoptics department. This is because very occasionally, children can react to the drops causing a raised temperature.

When to administer the eye drops

The cyclopentolate eye drops will either be given to you in clinic, or they will be posted/couriered to you. They will be individual single dose units.

The drops must be given on the day of the next clinic visit so that your child’s eyes are ready for examination.

Depending on how dark your child’s eyes are, you may be asked to instil a second drop into both eyes. You will be told the time(s) to put them in and can print this page and record this below.

On the day of next clinic visit:

  • Administer ONE drop into BOTH EYES ………minutes before appointment

If second drop applicable:

  • Administer ONE drop into BOTH EYES ………minutes before appointment

How do the drops work?

The drops relax the focus muscles of the eye and relax the muscles of the eye responsible for the pupil (the pupil is the central black area in the middle of the iris which is the coloured part of the eye). 

Altropine Eye Drops

How to use the eye drops

Eye drops are not always easy to put in, especially in a child, so please ask the orthoptics or pharmacy teams for advice if you feel this may be very difficult. If, for example you have arthritis and difficulties squeezing drops out then we are able to advise on various eye drop aids to help with this. The general principles to put these eye drops in are:

  1. Check the expiry date, to make sure the drop is in date.
  2. Wash your hands before using the eye drop.
  3. Remove one of the single dose drops units from the box.
  4. Twist off the cap from the end of the nozzle.
  5. Either with your child lying down, or in a seated position, tilt their head back so they are looking up. Gently pull the eyelids apart and squeeze one drop into the inside of the lower lid. (If you are unsure if the drop has gone in, then put another drop in).
  6. Repeat with the other eye.
  7. If possible, gently press on the inner corners of your child’s eyelids (next to their nose) for 30-60 seconds to help prevent the drop running into the nose and being swallowed.Do not be worried if you cannot manage doing this.
  8. Discard the eye drop (even though there is likely to be liquid left inside).
  9. Wash your own hands to avoid getting any drops in your own eyes.
  10. Wash your child’s hands to avoid them swallowing any of the eye drop if they rub their eyes and then put their hand in their mouth.

If you have been advised to administer a second drop at a later time, make sure you use the second single dose drop unit you have been provided with for this dose.

Do not re-use the single dose drop unit, discard it once used for the dose, even if there is remaining liquid.

What to expect

Please inform your child’s school about the use of the drops, and that your child will have blurred vision and enlarged pupils for a few days, however they usually return to normal within 24 hours.

Possible side effects

As with all medicines, some side effects may occur. The drops can cause temporary stinging and will make their vision blurry for several hours. The blurriness is due to the relaxation of the focus muscles inside the eye and is completely normal with these drops.

Please read the medicines leaflet you will receive with the drops. Occasionally children can react, showing raised temperature. If a problem occurs, stop using the cyclopentolate immediately and seek advice from your GP or the NHS Helpline 111; if your child is very unwell, immediately seek help by going to your local A&E department.

Sun protection

The drops are likely to make your child’s eyes more sensitive to light, so if it is forecasted to be a sunny day, please prepare with sunglasses or a sun hat to make your child more comfortable and protect their eyes.

Storage of the eye drops

Always keep medicines out of the sight and reach of children.

Store the drops in the original packet in which they were supplied at room temperature and away from direct heat or sunlight.

Important information: – please remember

  • Wash and dry your hands before and after administering the drops.
  • Wash your child’s hands after using the drops
  • Inform your child’s school about their use of the drops and blurred vision and enlarged pupils
  • Store the drops in a safe place out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store the drops in the original packet in which they were supplied at room temperature.
  • Do not use the drops after the expiry date has passed.
  • Do not re-use the single dose unit, discard them once used, even if there is remaining liquid.
  • Tell your pharmacist, orthoptist or doctor if your child is allergic to any medication or if your child has any other eye condition
  • Do not use the drops for anyone else.

What if I forget a dose or am unable to put the drops in?

If you forget or are unable to put the drops into your child, please call the orthoptistdepartment for further advice. Contact details are provided below.

Please either email or telephone the Moorfields service where your child is being seen:

  • Moorfields Eye Hospital, City Road

Phone: 020 7566 2161 (Monday to Friday)


  • Moorfields at St George’s

Phone: 020 8266 6120 (Monday to Friday)


  • Moorfields at Ealing

Phone: 020 8967 5766 (Tuesday and Wednesday, ask for the orthoptist)

  • Moorfields at Northwick Park

Phone: 020 8869 3160 (Tuesday and Friday, ask for the orthoptist)

  • Moorfields at Homerton

Phone: 020 8510 5018 (Friday, ask for the orthoptist)

  • Moorfields at Potters Bar

Phone: 01707 653 286 (Wednesday)

  • Moorfields at Bedford

Phone: 01234 792 290 (Monday to Friday)

  • Moorfields at Croydon

Phone: 020 8401 3485 (Monday to Friday)