The best eye drops for dry eye treatment in most people are artificial tears. If your dry eye is more severe, you may require more than just artificial tears. Artificial tears are exactly what the name suggests. In addition to your body’s natural tear production, artificial tears can help to moisten and lubricate your eyes. This can help to relieve dry eye symptoms like stinging, burning, gritty sensation, or feeling like something is in the eye. Artificial tears can be bought at a drug store or online without a prescription.
Picking the best artificial tear eye drop can be challenging. There are many different types of drops that treat different types of dry eye. Some drops are over the counter and some require a prescription. Prescription eye drops for dry eye are used in cases of severe dry eye.
Best Eye Drops For Dry Eye Disease That Is Mild
If you have mild dry eye, start with an over-the-counter artificial tear. You can use it up to 4 times a day in each eye. Two of our favorite dry eye drop brands are Systane and Thera Tears. Both of these options have preservatives in them. Preservatives are well tolerated by most people but not all. Preservatives help prevent bacterial growth in eye drop bottles. However, these preservatives can irritate some people’s eyes and symptoms worse.
There are two reasons to switch to preservative-free tears. The first reason is that you are not tolerating the dry eye drop. The second reason is that you feel that you need to put the drop inside the eye more than 4 times a day. If you want to use a dry eye drop 6 times a day or even every hour, it is a good idea to switch to preservative-free artificial tears. Preservative-free dry eye drops usually come in packs of 25 or 30 individual vials. They tend to be more expensive than dry eyd drops that have preservatives.
Best Eye Drops For Dry Eye Disease That Is Moderate To Severe
If preservative-free artificial tears are not enough for your symptoms, you can discuss adding treatment with your doctor. The next step after artificial tears includes adding a gel tear or eye ointment at night. Gel tears are thicker than artificial tears. Although they are more useful for moderate dry eye, they can take time to work. One of the downsides to gel tears is that when you put them into the eye, they are so thick that they cause blurry vision. This is why you should take gel tears are night.
Gel tears are also readily available online. Some of the same brands that make regular artificial tears also make gel tears. Our favorite brands of gel tears are
Remember that dry eye treatment is additive. This means that gel tears do not replace the artificial tears you are taking during the day. You will add gel tears to your regimen at night.
After gel tears, your doctor may suggest prescription eye drops like Restasis, Xiidra, or Cequa. These drops can take up to 3 months to start working, so you will need to be patients when expecting results. Another problem with these drops is that without insurance, these drops can be very expensive, and some insurances may not cover them at all. Other common dry eye therapies include blepharitis treatment, since untreated blepharitis can make dry eye worse, and punctal plugs. Punctal plugs can be very effective for some patients with dry eye and they are usually covered by insurance.
Related: Eye Mask For Dry Eyes
What Causes Dry Eye?
Infrequent blinking, which usually happens when looking at a computer screen for long stretches of time, is a major cause of dry eye. Dry eye can also be caused by contact lenses, a dusty or dry surrounding environment, or as a side effect of other medicines you may be taking. Some medical diseases can also cause dry eyes. These conditions include allergies, hormonal disorders (thyroid, diabetes), autoimmune disorders such as Sjogren’s syndrome, Lupus, and Rheumatoid Arthritis, conditions that cause eye inflammation, and nutrient deficiencies (essential fatty acids, Vitamin A), and dehydration.
What About Visine Eye Drops?
Visine eye drops are more useful for making a red eye appear white. Some generic versions of Visine may be labeled as “red eye relief.” It is important to note that eye drops that make the eye look white are typically not artificial tears. In many situations, some drops that instantly get rid of red eye can cause what is known as “rebound redness.” This is when the redness immediately returns after a short period of time when the medication has worn off. This is because these eye drops temporarily constrict the blood vessels in your eyes so that the vessels appear smaller. If your eye redness is from dry eyes, it is a better idea to use artificial tears and dry eye treatment to actually get to the root of the problem.
Best Eye Drops For Dry Eye: Take Home Points
The best eye drops for mild dry eye is a preservative-free artificial tear. The downside is that it can be more expensive. Preservative-free drops have fewer additives, and thus can be used much more frequently: up to every 1 to 2 hours. If your dry eye is very severe, you will need to add more treatment. Treatment for very severe dry eye usually involves artificial tears, a supplement, lid hygiene and prescription medication.