What Do Different Cap Colors on Eye Drops Mean? 

by Oct 24, 2022

Prescription eye drops come with a variety of different cap colors. This is an easy way to identify the type of medication as there is a uniform system that is used. An eye doctor can simply refer to a drop by the color of the cap which can make it much easier for patients to understand, remember, and then comply with the directions. 


Drops Which Are Not Classified by Cap Color

While many prescription eye drops have specific cap colors to indicate what type of medication it is, not all eye drops will have these colored caps. 

Most over the counter eye drops come with a white cap and are not distinguished by the color of the cap. In these instances, the bottle label and the name of the medication are used to identify the type of eye drop. 

Some prescription eye drops are not included in the cap color system due to a lack of different medications in the class or if the medication is a newly approved medication. 

Again, these drops can be identified using the bottle label and name of the drop. 


Pink Top Eye Drops – Steroid Eye Drops

All eye drops with a pink cap are steroid eye drops. 

Common steroid eye drops include prednisolone acetate, difluprednate, loteprednol, and fluorometholone

Steroid eye drops are often prescribed often eye surgeries like cataract surgery, for inflammation in the eyes, and to help with healing from infections of the eyes. 


Tan Top Eye Drops – Antibiotic Eye Drops

Eye drops with a tan or beige cap will be antibiotic eye drops or other anti-infective eye drops. 

These eye drops include ciprofloxacin, tobramycin, erythromycin, polysporin, trimethoprim, and many other antibiotics. 

An antibiotic eye drop is prescribed when there is an eye infection or risk of infection from bacteria. 

Common eye infections include conjunctivitis and a hordeolum

These drops can be used after cataract surgery, when there is a scratch on the eye, or when there is another type of damage to the eye to prevent infections.


Red Cap Eye Drops – Dilating Eye Drops

All dilating eye drops have a red cap. This is to indicate that they should be used with caution as the effects will be non-reversible for a period of time. 

Among the dilating drops which are used in eye exams and for treatments are tropicamide, atropine, phenylephrine, and homatropine. 

The most common use of these drops is during an eye exam for dilation. These are also used to help with pain when the eye is very inflamed or swollen. 


Dark Green Cap Eye Drops – Pupil Constricting Drops

Drops with a dark green or forest green cap are called miotics, meaning they cause the pupil to get smaller or constrict. 

The only drop in this category currently is pilocarpine. 

Pilocarpine has been used to treat glaucoma for many years and recently was approved under the name Vuity to replace reading glasses in presbyopia. 


Teal, Orange, Blue, and Purple Cap Eye Drops – Glaucoma Medications

There are many types of eye drops used to treat glaucoma by lowering the eye pressure. 

These drops may have teal or turquoise caps which are prostaglandin analog drops like latanoprost, travoprost, or bimatoprost.

If the cap is orange, the drop is a carbonic anhydride inhibitor such as dorzolamide or brinzolamide. 

Blue caps indicate the drops are a beta blocker like timolol or istalol

The last group of glaucoma medications are alpha antagonists including brimonidine or apraclonidine. 


Importance of Knowing Your Eye Drops

When using eye drops, especially multiple eye drops, it is very important to make sure that you are using the right drop and the correct amount of it. 

By using the cap colors as a guide, it can be easier to remember and keep track of your eye drops. 


Our eye doctors at Neal Eye Group in Conshohocken, PA excel in the prescription of contact lenses, glasses and various eye diseases.  Call our optometrists at (610) 828-9701 or schedule an appointment online if you have any questions about your eye drops.  Our optometrists provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Conshohocken, Norristown, Plymouth Meeting, Lafayette Hill, and Philadelphia.

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