Eye drops are a very popular treatment for dry eye. But which eye drops are best for you?
Eye drops, also known as artificial tears, are a very common, and popular treatment for dry eye. However, not all eye drops are created equal. Some have more specific uses, and others work better for different people.
Eye drops help relieve dry eye symptoms by keeping the eyes moist and lubricated, though they aren’t designed to treat underlying causes of dry eye.
However, for dry eye caused by things like fatigue, or environmental factors, eye drops can be a great way to alleviate symptoms.
Eye drops are typically available over the counter, and are made with some of the same ingredients as natural tears, such as electrolytes, giving them better ability to protect the surface of your eyes.
However, there is additional information about common ingredients in eye drops, which anyone considering using them should be aware of.
Many eye drops contain preservatives meant to prevent bacteria growth in the liquid once it’s opened.
Common preservatives found in eye drop solutions include:
For most people, these preservatives pose no problem. However, they may irritate some people's eyes, especially if they have severe dry eye. If you suffer from moderate or severe dry eye, and have to use dry eye multiple times per day, you might be better off with preservative-free drops (they will be labeled as such).
This type of eye drop is designed for people suffering from evaporative dry eye, where the eyes get dry because the tears do not make enough oil or make low-quality oil, and thus evaporate too quickly.
Lipid-based eye drops are meant to help improve the tear film and keep your eyes moist.
Ingredients in lipid-based eye drops include
Not all over the counter eye drops are artificial tears. There are some types of drops you should avoid unless a doctor recommends them to you.
Allergy Eye Drops: Eye drops meant to alleviate allergy symptoms are not meant for standard dry eye, and should not be used for that purpose. Examples of allergy eye drops include ketotifen fumarate and olopatadine hydrochloride.
Redness-Relieving Eye Drops: Redness-relieving drops are used to reduce eye redness caused by things like allergies, contact lenses, or smoke inhalation. If they are used too often, these drops can cause rebound redness, which makes the eyes even redder. These drops should only be used for red eyes and only for short periods of time. For many people ,preservative-free drops may be more helpful for reducing redness.
Redness-relieving drops can include naphazoline or tetrahydrozoline.
Antibiotic Eye Drops: Eye drops designed to treat eye infections are prescription-only, and should only be used for that purpose. Common antibiotic eye drops include azithromycin and tobramycin.
Artificial tears can help relieve the dryness caused by wearing contact lenses. However, there are some things you should bear in mind.
Before using eye drops with contact lenses, make sure that you can safely use them while wearing contacts. Many types of eye drops are safe to use while wearing contacts, but some, with thicker formulas, may advise you to wait before inserting contacts after use. Be sure to carefully read the product label and instructions.
Rewetting drops can be a good option as well. They are specifically meant to make it more comfortable to wear your contact lenses. They will be labeled “for contact lenses”, and sold near contact lens solutions. When using, be sure to follow the instructions.
In all cases ,you should speak with your doctor if you’re thinking about using eye drops for contact lens discomfort. They will be better able to recommend what your should take, and can even recommend different types of lenses which may be more comfortable to wear.
Eye drops can be an effective way to treat dry eye symptoms. However, be aware of what type of eye drops you buy, so that you purchase a product that will be effective for your needs. If you have additional questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, you can contact American Family Vision Clinic at (360) 491-2121.