Most everyone has experienced red, irritated, or watery eyes from time to time. Given how many factors can cause eye irritation—including eye allergies, dry eyes, an infection, lack of sleep, or life stress—it’s also no wonder that there are a wide variety of over-the-counter eye drops that claim to relieve dry, gritty, watery, or red eyes.
The problem is that if you’ve ever looked over the shelves containing eye drops in a grocery or drug store, no doubt you can relate to how confusing it can be to choose the right eye drop for your symptoms. If you choose the wrong type of drop, will it make your symptoms worse, or create new symptoms?
According to Dr. Thompson at Hardin Valley Eyecare & Optical, there are a few basic things to keep in mind that will help you sort through the many kinds of over-the-counter eye drops and choose the right one for you. Plus, there are a few brands that Dr. Thompson has seen patients have success with when it comes to dry eyes or eye allergies.
First, A Note Of Caution With Redness Relieving Drops
Let’s start with the two types you’re most likely to find at your local drug store—artificial tears and redness-relieving drops. Too many people use eye drops formulated to relieve redness on a regular basis, but this practice backfires.
Dr. Thompson cautions that when using any over-the-counter eye drops you should avoid using one that includes a redness reliever—or vasoconstrictor—for more than 72-hours. If you use redness-relieving eye drops, such as Visine or Clear Eyes, for longer than that or on a regular basis, they can create a “redness rebound” effect that makes your eyes stay red all of the time.
This “rebound redness” can worsen over time, leading to persistent red eyes. For this reason, Dr. Thompson recommends first trying lubricating eye drops—or artificial tears—as a fix for red eyes. If these work to clear the redness from your eyes, you can avoid redness relieving drops except for on occasions such as before an important event or family photo.
Brands For Dry Eyes & Allergies
In addition to clearing redness, artificial tears may also help alleviate dry eye symptoms. Artificial tears are formulated to be lubricating drops to soothe dry, gritty, or uncomfortable eyes. These drops are either watery, like the consistency of your tears, or like a gel ointment. Either type is safe to use whenever you need them, and using them before your eyes become irritated may help you stay ahead of dry eye symptoms.
Dr. Thompson recommends Refresh and Systane as two of the better artificial teardrops that his patients have had success with, as long as they are used as directed on the label. It may take some trials to see if the liquid or gel formulas work better for your symptoms.
When it comes to temporary relief of itchiness from seasonal eye allergies, Dr. Thompson has found that two of the most effective over-the-counter eye drops for many or his patients are Alaway or Zaditor, used twice a day.
A few other general tips about eye drops:
- Never use anything that isn’t formulated for your eyes—any food products or type of homemade eye drops are not sterile.
- Never share prescription or over-the-counter eye drops, as this can share infections.
- If you wear contacts, be sure you’re using the correct solution for your contacts.
To make sure your eye symptoms are treated properly, see your optometrist if:
- Your eyes suddenly become red or bloodshot.
- Your eyes are constantly red, despite the use of lubricating or allergy drops.
- If you suspect you might have an eye infection.
- Your vision is blurry or you have pain or other discomforts in your eyes.
- You have an injury to your eye, even if it’s seemingly minor.
- You have a sticky discharge from your eyes.
Your optometrist can determine the cause of your uncomfortable eye symptoms and find the best way to treat them. In addition, be sure to schedule regular eye exams with your eye doctor, including additional exams if you notice any changes in your vision.
Located at 10904 Spring Bluff Way off Hardin Valley Road, Hardin Valley Eyecare & Optical has provided the highest quality vision care products and trusted optometry services to our patients in Knoxville and the surrounding areas since 2009. Our eye care professionals are dedicated to providing exceptional personal service to each and every person who walks through our door. Call us at (865) 409-1253 or contact us to schedule an appointment.