When our eyes are irritated, some of us first turn to lubricating eye drops from the drugstore to see if these can solve the problem. Our eye doctors may also recommend them as part of a treatment plan for conditions like dry eyes or for healing from refractive surgery or ocular injuries. The primary aim of these lubricants is to produce or aid a sufficient and optimal tear film to always surround and sustain your eyes. Explained in this article are several factors that our eye doctors consider in recommending lubricating eye drops to you and that you should think about when choosing your own.
Eye Drops and Viscosity
One way to sort ocular lubricants is based on their consistency, thickness, or viscosity. Most common, and least viscous, are plain liquid eye drops. Their consistency is similar to water and they lead to the least amount of visual blurring upon instillation. Consequently, these drops also evaporate off the eye more quickly than the other options.
Gel drops are more viscous than drops but less so than ointments. The thicker consistency means that these stay on the eye longer compared with drops. As a result, however, they can also cause more blurry vision upon application due to their thickness, which will go away soon after with blinking.
Ointments are the thickest of the different moisturizers for eyes. These come in tubes with slightly thinner than toothpaste consistency. These may be recommended to you by our eye doctors for kids, seniors, or overnight use as they can cause some blur after application. The primary benefit of ointments is their ability to stay on the eye for the longest amounts of time compared to eye drops or gels. This allows for fewer instillations than an eye drop or gel.
Preservatives in Artificial Tears
Preservatives are added to eye drops to maintain sterility of the drops with continual use. Benzalkonium chloride (BAK) is a commonly used preservative that some patients may be sensitive to. BAK may also decrease the stability of the tear film that covers the eye. A stable tear film is necessary to protect against conditions such as dry eye or infection and promote optimal eye health and healing. For this reason, preservative-free eye drops that no longer contain BAK were developed. These drops are often packaged into individual single-dose vials to prevent contamination. Some companies have also developed multi-dose preservative-free bottles.
Other Eye Drop Ingredients
There are also special ingredients in some lubricants to look out for, and our eye doctors may want you using an eye drop with one of these within it. If you have a corneal injury or irritation that needs to heal, an ingredient like hyaluronate will help speed along that process by enhancing lubrication, forming a protective barrier, and increasing healing rate. If the oil-producing glands in your eyelids are not producing the quantity or quality of this oil that is necessary for optimal ocular health, a lipid component in your eye drops will be very beneficial as well. These are just some examples of special components that may be desired by our eye doctor in your eye drops due to your specific condition.
Our eye doctors at EyeDocs Family Eye Care in Brookville, OH excel in prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye disese. Call our optometrists at 937-770-1265 or schedule an eye exam appointment online if you would like to be evaluated for dry eyes and learn which artificial tear eye drop is best for you. Our eye doctors, Dr. Kyle Maxam and Dr. Cara Wampler, provide the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Brookville, Ohio.
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