A walk down the eye drop aisle at your local store can be daunting! There are so many different drops to choose from. How do you know what drops to choose for your symptoms? If you are in a pinch and need quick relief, here’s a simple way to navigate the eye drop aisle for over the counter relief.
3 Drop Categories:
Despite the seemingly endless brands of over the counter eye drops, they can generally be grouped into three categories.
1. “Get the Red Out”:
Brands like Visine, Clear Eyes, Opcon, and Rohto advertise products to “reduce redness”. This seems like a simple solution to a simple problem if your eyes are red. However, if you do not understand what Visine is and how it works, you may be unaware that it could actually be causing more harm than good to your eyes and make your symptoms worse.
These drops contain a blood vessel constricting medication called Tetrahydrozoline or Naphazoline that will shrink the blood vessels on the surface of your eye, making your eyes appear temporarily less red. The problem is, using these drops on a regular basis typically causes more irritation and can even cause dilation and blurred vision. When you stop taking them, they cause rebound inflammation, making your eyes appear even more red and irritated than before. Visine makes a basic mistake; it temporarily addresses your symptom (redness) without adequately solving the underlying cause (which may vary from allergy to dry eye).
***New Product Alert***
Bausch and Lomb released a new drop called LUMIFY which is much better for redness relief. This drop works differently than any other red eye product. The active ingredient is brimonidine which selectively narrows blood vessels in the eye, while increasing the availability of oxygen to the eye tissues so they appear brighter and whiter. In comparision, Visine and related products, decrease the availability of oxygen to ocular tissue causing rebound redness after discontinued use.
Take Away Message: there are better options than Visine!
2. Artificial Tears:
These are excellent eye drops to soothe dry, red, or irritated eyes. They do not contain a medication but, rather, coat the ocular surface with protective tears, and some formulas help to restore the natural tear film. These drops will allow the eye to work to heal itself without creating rebound redness.
Systane Balance or Complete and Refresh products make excellent artificial tears to soothe gritty eyes, stop excess tearing, soothe redness, and clear intermittent hazy or foggy vision. They also make night-time gels and ointments that lubricate your eye while you sleep.
Take Away Message: Much better solution than Visine!
3. Antihistamines: Are your eyes itching?
If you suffer from chronic redness and itchiness, which is typically caused by allergies, you should stick with the two best over the counter allergy drops: Alaway or Zaditor. Both are used twice a day for mild allergies. But be warned: these drops have little effect against moderate to severe allergic reactions. Stronger prescription allergy drops are almost always needed in these cases.
Take Away Message: The best over the counter drops for MILD eye allergies. If your allergy is more severe consult your Optometrist for prescription medication treatment options.