Are Eye Drops Confusing?

Dr. Russel Lazarus, June 9, 2021

Do you get overwhelmed by the selection of eye drops at the pharmacy?

Many people who suffer from dry eye syndrome (DES) pace up and down the eyecare aisle at their local drugstore, trying to figure out which eye drops will provide the best relief.

There is a better way! Your optometrist can recommend the best treatment for your eyes, whether it’s eye drops, an in-office treatment or other options.

If you suffer from dry eye syndrome, contact an eye doctor near you to help you find out which eye drops you should be looking for.

SEE RELATED: Can Eye Drops Be Overused?

Find an eye doctor near you

Most importantly, determining the source of your dry eye symptoms is critical to obtaining long-term relief. All the eye drops in the world won’t help if your tear ducts are blocked.

Over-the-counter eye drops will not help eyes that require prescription eye drops.

Below you’ll find  more information about dry eye syndrome and eye drops.

How do eye drops relieve DES symptoms?

Dry eye syndrome is caused by a chronic lack of sufficient lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye. Red, itchy, gritty, watery eyes, impaired vision and light sensitivity are all common DES symptoms.

There are 3 main types of DES:

  1. Aqueous deficient DES occurs if your lacrimal glands (water glands) don’t produce enough water. If you don’t have a sufficient amount of tears, you may experience pain with each blink.
  1. Evaporative DES occurs if your meibomian glands become clogged and prevent the oil portion of your tears from secreting sufficiently. If you don’t have enough oil in your tears, they will evaporate very quickly.
  1. Mixed DES is a combination of both.

Various eye drops target different forms of DES.

Dry eyes can also be caused by allergies, if your dry eye syndrome is caused by an allergic reaction, your eye doctor may prescribe antihistamine eye drops. If you have evaporative DES, your optometrist may offer an oil-containing eye drop to help you maintain a healthy tear film.

Be aware of preservatives 

Depending on the underlying cause of your DES, your eye doctor may offer either prescription medicated eye drops or over-the-counter lubricating eye drops.

Over-the-counter artificial tears come in two forms: with preservatives and without preservatives.

Most eye drops that are in bottles contain preservatives that, when used repeatedly, may cause irritation and harmful effects on the eye’s surface.

Preservative-free eye drops may be recommended by your eye doctor so that you can use them throughout the day without worrying about irritating or hurting your eyes.

Eye drops can be free of preservatives and come in single-dose vials to ensure sterility and precise dosage.

A comprehensive eye exam is the best way to know how to treat your dry eyes.

LEARN MORE:  Guide to Eye Conditions

Make an appointment with an eye doctor near you who can determine the cause of your dry eyes, and then recommend the best eye drops or other treatment and give you back your white and comfortable eyes.