June 19, 2018

Which eye drops should I use?

Honestly, that depends on what is causing your dry eye. One thing that I can guarantee for certain is that you do NOT want to use eye drops that claim to “get the red out.” Drops that “get the red out” have an active ingredient that causes the tiny blood vessels in the front of the eye to constrict, making the eye appear white. However, constricted blood vessels do not allow much blood to the sensitive tissues on the front of the eye, suffocating it for lack of nutrients, causing more irritation and inflammation, which promotes more dryness, which leads to even more redness. This is a great marketing scheme for the manufacturers of “get the red out” eye drops, but is not very beneficial for your eyes.
So, what are good alternatives? On a very basic level, there are two layers to the tear film: the water layer that we are all so familiar with, and a thin oil layer that coats the surface. The oil layer’s job is two-fold: to lubricate the eyelid every time we blink, and to keep the water part of the tears from evaporating too quickly between blinks. 85% of dry eye is caused by an oil layer that is too thin or non-existent, meaning you will want an oil-based artificial tear such as Systane Balance, Refresh Optive Advanced, or Retaine MGD. If your dry eyes are caused by too little water in the tear film, or if you wear monthly contact lenses, then a water-based artificial tear is for you, such as Systane Ultra, Refresh Plus, or Blink. (Oil-based artificial tears can cause deposits on some contacts, causing blurry vision.)
If you are still in doubt as to which is best for you, make an appointment with your local eye doctor. They can evaluate your dry eyes and give you a specific treatment plan to address the symptoms and the root cause of the dryness, and can help get your eyes feeling comfortable again.

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