Eye Drop Choices

You’re at the pharmacy searching for something to relieve your eye irritation with some eye drops. When you get there and you find yourself faced with a wide selection of eye drops, many claiming to do the same thing, but not all eye drops are created equal.

Unfortunately, there is no universal eye drop to cure all symptoms. Before reaching for a bottle of eye drops, it is best to determine the underlying causes of your symptoms. You should always consult your eye doctor first as some symptoms may be signs of more serious health conditions or may require prescription medicine.

Over The Counter Eye Drops:

Artificial Tears – Artificial tears, commonly referred to as lubricating drops, are used to relieve dry eye and act as a protective, moisturizing barrier for your eyes. They are sometimes recommended for allergies because they help rinse the allergens out of the eye. Most artificial tear products can be bought over the counter.

Patients with allergies should consider a preservative free eye drop solution, as they are used more frequently. Other options include thicker formulas like an eye gel. Talk with your doctor to determine what solution will work best for you.

Decongestants – Decongestants can be purchased over the counter and provide temporary relief from red eyes. While this is a tempting quick fix, they should not be used regularly.

Decongestants are also known as vasoconstrictors because they narrow the blood vessels. This is what temporarily brightens the white part of the eyes, reducing appearance of redness.

They are not recommended for long-term use as eyes may become dependent on them and can cause damage to the blood vessels with overuse. This can lead to other potentially harmful eye conditions.

Prescription Eye Drops:

Antihistamines – For itchy, watery eyes caused by allergies check with your doctor about antihistamine eye drops. Histamine is a chemical defense triggered by the body when it comes into contact with something that irritates it such as pet dander.

Anti-inflammatory eye drops – For more serious allergic reactions like hay fever, allergic conjunctivitis, and corneal inflammation you may be prescribed Corticosteroid (steroid hormones) or NSAID (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory) eye drops. Use only as directed by your doctor.

Long term use of these drops can put you at risk for infections and more serious eye conditions like glaucoma and cataracts.

Moral of the Story
Be cautious when dealing with your eye health, even OTC eye drops should be treated with the same caution you would any other medication. Find an eye doctor near you to help you make informed decisions to keep your eyes healthy and happy.

Information received through VSP Vision Care channels is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice, medical recommendations, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your eye doctor, physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Article ©2020 Vision Service Plan. All rights reserved. Reproduction other than for one-time personal use is strictly prohibited. This article was originally published at https://www.vsp.com/eyewear-wellness/eye-health/eye-drop-choices