Eye Compress Application
Whether applied warm or cold, eye compresses are soothing and therapeutic. Because heat increases circulation which enhances absorption and decreases inflammation, warm compresses may relieve discomfort and promote drainage of superficial infections.
Typically, a cold compress should be applied for 20-minute periods, four to six times per day. Ocular infection requires the use of sterile technique.
Gloves ▪ prescribed solution, usually sterile water or normal saline solution ▪ sterile basin ▪ sterile 4″ × 4″ gauze pads ▪ towel ▪ Optional: ophthalmic ointment, eye patch.
Additional Equipment for A Cold Compress
Small plastic bag (such as a sandwich bag) or latex-free glove ▪ ice chips ▪ ½″ hypoallergenic tape.
Preparation of Equipment
Gather appropriate equipment and label all medications, medication containers, and other solutions.1
For A Warm Compress
Place a capped bottle of sterile water or normal saline solution in a basin of hot water or under a stream of hot tap water. Allow the solution to become warm (no higher than 120°F [49°C]). Pour the warm water or saline solution into a sterile basin, filling the basin about halfway. Place some sterile gauze pads in the basin.
For A Cold Compress
Place ice chips in a plastic bag (or a glove, if necessary) to make an ice pack. Keep the ice pack small to avoid excessive pressure on the eye. Remove excess air from the bag or glove, and seal or knot the open end. Cut a piece of hypoallergenic tape to secure the ice pack. Place all equipment on the bedside stand near the patient.
Check the doctor’s order for solution, frequency, and duration of treatment.2
Confirm the patient’s identity using at least two patient identifiers according to your facility’s policy.3
Explain the procedure to the patient, make him comfortable, and provide privacy. Answer all questions to decrease anxiety and increase cooperation.
If the patient has an eye patch, put on gloves and remove and discard the eye patch. Then remove the gloves and perform hand hygiene.4,5,6
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