Best eye drops for dry eyes

What Are the Best Eye Drops for Dry Eyes

Artificial tears are the most common form of eye drops used for treating dry eye. They work to keep the surface of your eyes moist.

The 5 Best Eye Drops for Dry Eye

A man drops eye drops into his eye

What are the best eye drops for dry eyes? With so many options to choose from, it can be hard to decide. The best way to find the right dry eye treatment for you is to be evaluated by an eye doctor.

Your optometrist or ophthalmologist can help determine what form of dry eye disease you have: aqueous deficient (eyes do not make enough tears) or evaporative (tears evaporate too quickly). Finding an effective treatment option depends on which type you suffer from, but in either case, eye drops can be one of the first lines of defense.

Our Dry Eye Expert, Dr. Kimberly Riordan, created a list of 5 highly effective eye drops for dry eye. Remember that no single brand works best for all forms of dry eye, and it’s common to try a few different brands before finding one that works best for you. Ask your doctor if these eye drops are suitable for your dry eye treatment plan.

Types of Eye Drops

There are many types of eye drops on the market to help combat dry eye symptoms. The most common eye drop treatments for dry eye include artificial tears, gels, and ointments. Aside from brand names, Dr. Riordan says the key is to choose preservative-free eye drops.

Artificial Tears

Artificial tears are the most common form of eye drops used for treating dry eye. They work to keep the surface of your eyes moist.

Allergy Drops

If you suffer from allergies, you are probably also familiar with allergy drops. These drops are used when people need relief from itchy, watery, red eyes caused by pet dander, pollens, molds, and other allergens.

Preservative Free Drops

No matter what brand of artificial tears, gels or drops you choose, avoid anything with preservatives. That’s because preservatives can irritate the surface of your eye, causing the delicate material to break down, which makes dry eye worse.

“If you expose your eye to preservatives multiple times a day, it can actually create dryness,” Dr. Riordan said. “We sometimes see staining on the eye from chronic preservative exposure, which makes eyes more red and irritated. In small quantities and small doses, preserved drops can be okay, but patients with dry eye should avoid anything with preservatives if possible.”

The 5 Best Eye Drops for Dry Eye

Oasis TEARS Plus

Why We Love It: These drops are preservative-free and have great lubrication to moisten the eyes and provide dry eye relief. Because the formula is more potent than others you normally find over the counter, it does a great job keeping tears on the eye’s surface to prevent irritation and dryness. These drops won’t be found in your local drug store, but the dry eye team at Florida Eye Specialists offers them at our Dry Eye Center.

Refresh Optive MEGA-3

Why We Love It: Refresh Optive MEGA-3 is another preservative-free option for dry eye. It is a lipid-enhanced lubricant eye drop that has been clinically shown to treat the signs and symptoms of eye dryness. The moisture-rich formula supports all three tear film layers and helps prevent tears from evaporating.

Optase Dry Eye Intense Drops

Why We Love It: Optase is a great brand with plenty of preservative-free options, including the Dry Eye Intense Drops and Optase Allergy Eye Drops. These drops use an advanced formula that brings the water in your natural tears to the surface of the eye, reducing evaporation and increasing eye comfort.

Systane Ultra (Preservative Free)

Why We Love It: These single-use eye drops are clinical strength and feature extended protection for long-lasting dry eye relief. The Systane brand offers many varieties of eye drops, so be sure to choose the Systane Ultra preservative-free option, which is perfect for sensitive eyes.

Retaine MGD Eye Drops

Why We Love It: Made by Ocusoft, Retaine MGD Eye Drops are preservative-free and fast-acting for immediate relief of dry, irritated eyes. These drops clean, soothe and moisturize the eye, providing long-lasting comfort.

Where to Buy Eye Drops for Dry Eye

The top, preservative-free eye drops aren’t always available in-store. That’s why the team at Florida Eye Specialists has partnered with Dry Eye Rescue to provide patients with the best products shipped directly to their homes. We also give patients a 10% off coupon they can use toward every order. It’s easy to set up a recurring shipment so you never run out of your favorite drops.

Signs You Should Try Eye Drops or Artificial Tears

Lubricating eye drops or artificial tears may help you if you have any signs or symptoms of dry eye, according to Dr. Riordan. That includes if your eyes are itching, if your eyes are tearing up, if you experience irritation, fluctuation of vision, redness, dryness, foreign body sensation and more.

Contact lenses can be a risk factor for dry eye, so using drops before and after you put your contacts in can be helpful to restore the tear film. Be mindful that some artificial tears will say on the box if they’re okay to use with contacts. If not, we recommend waiting at least 15 minutes after using the drops before putting contacts in, and then wait to use them again until you take your contacts out.

Use Artificial Tears If You Have…

  • Dry eye
  • Lasik
  • Itchy eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Wear contacts

Is It Safe to Use Sodium Hyaluronate for Dry Eyes?

Yes, it is safe to use products with sodium hyaluronate for dry eyes, according to Dr. Riordan. “It’s essentially the same chemical as hyaluronic acid,” she explained. “You’ll find it in a lot of artificial tears because it helps attract and lock in moisture. In fact, if you see hyaluronic acid or sodium hyaluronate listed in the ingredients, that’s a good thing.”

Can I Use Contact Lens Solution as Eye Drops for Dry Eyes?

No, Dr. Riordan and the specialists at Florida Eye Specialists would not recommend using contact lens solution for dry eyes. “Contact lens solution was created with preservatives and ingredients to kill microbes to clean and store contacts. Because of these preservatives and other chemicals, it’s not a good solution to lubricate your eyes,” Dr. Riordan explained. “In an emergency, like if you get something in your eye and it’s all you have to flush your eye, then use it, but we would not recommend it for daily use.”

What Are Lumify Eye Drops?

Lumify eye drops constrict the blood vessels to help resolve red eyes. According to Dr. Riordan, while they are sometimes used for patients with dry eye disease, it’s important to see a doctor first. “It’s best to understand why your eyes are getting red and treat the underlying reason,” she explained. “That way we can prevent your symptoms and help you find true dry eye relief.”

Visit the Dry Eye Experts in Jacksonville, Florida

Finding the right eye drops can drastically improve your eye discomfort. The key to dry eye treatment is breaking the cycle of irritation and inflammation by determining the cause of your dry eye. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Kimberly Riordan at our Dry Eye Center in Jacksonville, Fla. to begin creating a treatment plan that best suits your type of dry eye.

About Florida Eye Specialists

Florida Eye Specialists is one of the largest multi-specialty ophthalmology private practices in Northeast Florida, with offices in Fernandina Beach, Gate Parkway/295, Mandarin, Northside, Ponte Vedra Beach, Riverside, Orange Park, San Marco, Southpoint, Nocatee and St. Augustine. Schedule an appointment at one of our many locations.

  • Tags: artificial tears , dr Kimberly Riordan , dry eye disease , dry eye drops , eye drops for dry eye

What Are the Best Eye Drops for Dry Eyes?

Best eye drops for dry eyes

eye-drops-for-dry-eye Hero

Understanding Eye Drops for Dry Eye

Eye drops are often the first dry eye therapy method used when you have scratchy, irritated eyes. Most artificial tears are user-friendly and easily portable for on-the-go relief. But many types and brands are available, making it challenging to find the best one for you.

Should you choose eye drops with preservatives or preservative-free? Can allergy eye drops help, or are redness-relieving eye drops better for irritation? Learn more about what you’re putting in your eyes and what eye drops are best for dry eyes.

Preservative vs. Preservative-Free

The first obstacle is whether you should use eye drops with preservatives. Artificial tears in multiuse bottles use preservatives to prevent bacteria growth after opening the bottle. Therefore, patients can use the solution inside over longer periods.

Unfortunately, preservatives can be bad for dry eye. Many optometrists warn against using eye drops with preservatives more than 4 times daily. The preservative ingredient in eye drops—benzalkonium chloride (BAK)—is generally safe for short-term use. Still, long-term use can be counterproductive for symptom relief.

The additives in artificial tears can irritate the eyes and, in some cases, result in an allergic reaction. Switching to preservative-free can benefit patients with chronic dry eye.

Most preservative-free eye drops are contained in single-use vials, as there’s no preservative to protect the opened bottle. However, some brands have uniquely formulated or packaged multiuse bottles with preservative-free solutions.

Some notable brands that have introduced preservative-free dry eye drops include:

Gels vs. Ointments

Most people are familiar with watery artificial tears—eye drops with low viscosity. Eye drops with low viscosity are generally better tolerated and easier to use. Gel eye drops or ointments provide a longer duration of relief but can cause blurry vision.

Imagine looking through a clear window. First, water is poured over the surface. For a moment, visibility might decrease, but the water washes away quickly. Now imagine smearing petroleum jelly or translucent oil over the window surface. You might be able to see a little through the thick substance, but it sticks to the window surface longer and washes away less easily.

Gels and ointments for dry eye can be used during the day, but many optometrists recommend applying at night. The long-term relief can help with morning dry eye, and night use won’t hinder your vision.

Examples of commonly recommended eye gels for dry eye include:

An image split in half to depict the before and after of dry eye treatment with a red eye on the left and a healthy eye on the right.

  • GenTeal Tears Lubricating Eye Gel
  • HydraSense Ultra Night or Night Therapy (Preservative-free)

Eye Allergies

When eye allergies cause dry eye, it can benefit patients to use eye drops that treat multiple symptoms. Most allergy eye drops contain antihistamines to reduce symptoms by controlling your immune response. Some allergy eye drops also lubricate the eye to soothe symptoms, including irritation and dryness.

Patients should be aware that most allergy eye drops are not safe to use with contact lenses.

Eye Drops with Contact Lenses

Contact lens wear can contribute to dry eye, yet many eye drops are incompatible with contact lenses. Many lubricating eye drops can cause hazy vision while wearing contact lenses. The solution can also build up on your lenses.

It’s always best to give your eyes a contact lens break if you’re experiencing symptoms. However, having contact-friendly lubricating eye drops can come in handy. You might encounter a situation where you can’t remove your contacts just yet, so adding a couple of drops can hydrate and protect your eyes until you can.

  • Examples of popular brands with contact-safe dry eye drops include:
  • Bausch and Lomb Biotrue Hydration Boost (Preservative-Free)
  • Refresh Relieva for Contacts

Redness-Relieving Eye Drops

Irritated, red, or bloodshot eyes commonly occur alongside dry eye. When tiny blood vessels on the sclera (white of the eye) expand, it can make your eye appear red or pink. Redness-relieving eye drops use a decongestant to reduce swelling in the blood vessels, decreasing the appearance of redness.

Avoid using redness-relieving eye drops for more than 72 hours. Overuse leads to tachyphylaxis, where continuous exposure causes a drug to become ineffective. Redness-relieving eye drops can also cause rebound redness, where symptoms return after the eye drops have worn off. Often, symptoms become more severe.

Additionally, people at risk for glaucoma should not use whitening eye drops. Redness-relieving eye drops can increase your risk of developing narrow-angle glaucoma.

Talk to your optometrist if eye redness is a recurring concern. While redness-relieving eye drops can improve irritation, it’s best to use a lubricating solution rather than a decongestant. Your optometrist may also recommend treatment that reduces redness and treats dryness.

For example, Bausch and Lomb Lumify redness-relieving eye drops have a lower risk of redness rebound and tachyphylaxis as it constricts blood vessels with maintaining oxygen availability.

Prescription vs. Nonprescription

Eye drops are commonly available over-the-counter (OTC). Many nonprescription eye drops can be effective in treating dry eye. However, prescription or Rx eye drops are generally better at treating complex or severe conditions.

Your optometrist can assess your dry eye to determine the severity of your symptoms and make a recommendation based on your eye health. You may experience complete relief with value OTC brands or need a personalized solution for your symptoms.

Talk to Your Optometrist

When you need dry eye relief, visit your optometrist. We can recommend a treatment plan customized for your eye health and vision. Instead of suffering through your symptoms, talk to your optometrist about eye drops and more dry eye therapy solutions.

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