The Truth About Artificial Tears and Dry Eye Disease

These eye drops are examples of common artificial tears.

Dry eye disease is a very common condition that impacts millions of people! In fact, the digital devices that consume our daily lives are only making matters worse. Fortunately, artificial tears, or lubricating eye drops, are a good first line treatment for most people with dry eyes.

However, purchasing these drops can be really overwhelming, as there are so many to choose from! Below is a simple guide to help you navigate your options. 

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Which artificial tears are the BEST?

The truth of the matter is, not all eye drops fit everyone equally! Therefore, each person will have their favorite drops based upon the individual chemistry of their eye. 

Here are a few mainstream eye drops to consider:

Your tears are made up of an oily layer, a watery layer, and a mucous layer. Therefore, different teardrops are designed to target different layers to make your eyes more comfortable and lubricated. 

Here is the 3 layers of the tear film.

Ideally, most artificial tears will have a pH similar to that of your natural tears (which is usually around 7 pH). Each drop has a different salt concentration (i.e. osmolarity) that contributes to its effectiveness.

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For example, if you have severe dry eye disease, the salt concentration on your eye is likely increased. Therefore, using a drop with a lower salt concentration to offset this imbalance is best!

Preservative-free eye drops

Did you know a lot of eye drops have preservatives in them? Fortunately, there are a few artificial tears that are preservative free. If your eyes are extremely sensitive to chemicals, preservative free drops might be best for you!

Also, if you’re using tear drops more than four times a day, you should consider using a preservative-free artificial tear to avoid causing a toxic reaction to your eye.

Here are a few preservative-free (PF) eye drops to consider:

Note: Preservative-free eye drops tend to be often more expensive. With this in mind, they can really be effective if you are sensitive to eye drops with preservatives or have specific eye diseases.

Contact lens eye drops

If you wear contact lenses, it’s best to use eye drops that don’t interfere with how they lay on your eye. In particular, thicker eye drops, such as gels and ointments, should be avoided.

If your eye doctor prescribes you an eye drop that could interfere with your lenses, make sure to use them approximately 15 minutes before you put your contacts in OR after you take them out.

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Fortunately, there are a few eye drops that were designed specifically for contact lens wearers. These rewetting drops can be used with your contacts in and are designed to keep your eyes lubricated and comfortable.

Here are a few contact lens eye drops to consider:

Note: A number of the basic and advanced eye drops listed above can also be used while wearing contacts. Just make sure to review the instructions for each drop before doing so.

“Redness relief” eye drops

Truth be told, eye drops that are advertised to provide “redness relief” often have chemicals in them that most eye doctors do not recommend you use on a regular basis.

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Why? When you stop using these drops, your eye often rebounds back to look redder than it was before! Still, the occasional use of “redness relief” eye drops is OK in moderation. Just don’t overdo it!

Here are a few “redness relief” eye drops to consider:

Lastly, if you’ve tried using artificial tears and are still having symptoms, consult with an eye care professional for additional treatment options!

Wondering which artificial tears suit you best? What are you waiting for? Make sure to schedule an appointment with your local eye care professional today.

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