We know that Dry Eye Disease usually requires the use of artificial tears in order to alleviate symptoms of dryness, irritation, and grittiness. Many doctors recommend the use of over-the-counter lubricating eye drops in order to address these symptoms and improve ocular health. However, buying eye drops at the drug store can be overwhelming; it may seem like there are hundreds of options, how are you to know what is best for your eyes? Not all drops are equal in effectiveness and safety, so here is a brief guide on what to look for and what to avoid when it comes to buying artificial tears.
Is Visine Bad for My Eyes?
Visine is one brand of eye drops that has wide name recognition. This brand is best known for producing an ocular decongestant, which constricts the blood vessels in the eye in order to reduce redness or prevent a blood-shot appearance. In itself, this is not necessarily a bad property of these eye drops. However, they are not effective in providing the ocular surface with lubrication and nourishment, and may not be the best option in treating Dry Eye Disease. Additionally, many people have reported rebound redness, meaning that the eyes become even more red after the drug has worn off. The rebound redness can worsen over time, leaving the eyes appearing consistently red and bloodshot. Overall, these drops are not an option endorsed by eye care professionals.
Lubricating Gel Eye Drops
Many brands of lubricating eye drops offer a “gel” eye drop. These types of eye drops typically contain an ingredient that makes them more viscous, meaning they are thicker than the average eye drop. Because they are thicker, they have the tendency to slightly obscure vision directly after they are instilled, so gel eye drops are most frequently recommended for nighttime use. For those who experience nighttime dryness and wake up with dry or irritated eyes, instilling a gel drop before bed may be effective in keeping the cornea protected overnight and reducing discomfort in the morning. Gel drops are available from many different manufacturers and may also be labeled as “long lasting” drops due to their thicker properties.
Eye Wash and Saline
For the treatment of Dry Eye Disease, products labeled as eye wash or saline are not effective products. That is not to say that eye wash does not have its proper place in eye health; it can be used for safely flushing irritants such as chlorine or pollen out of the eye (but remember to see your eye doctor if a harmful substance is in your eye). However, it has very little lubricating properties. There are no active ingredients that work to lubricate, nourish, and protect the ocular surface. As such, eye wash or saline provides little to no relief of Dry Eye symptoms. In fact, excessive use of eye wash can ultimately disrupt the natural tear film and cause the symptoms of Dry Eye Disease to worsen.