Your Guide to Over-the-Counter (OTC) Eye Drops 

by Mar 31, 2020

For some eye conditions, such as dry eye disease or ocular allergies, there are effective over-the-counter treatment options.  Many doctors will recommend these non-prescription options to combat uncomfortable symptoms such as burning, itching, grittiness, or irritation.  While these non-prescription options can be highly effective, choosing the best eye drop can be overwhelming and confusing. The eye care aisle of the pharmacy has hundreds of products, so how do you know if you are choosing the right eye drop? Your optometrist can make recommendations based on your specific symptoms, and they will be able to guide you to the most appropriate product.  Continue reading for a brief guide on some common over-the-counter treatment options.  


Choosing an Artificial Tear and Lubricating Eye Drop

Lubricating artificial tears are commonly the first treatment option in patients with dry eye disease.  These drops are used several times daily and work by nourishing and protecting the front surface of the eye, which reduces uncomfortable symptoms of dryness.  One of the most commonly recommended types of artificial tears are “preservative free” artificial tears.  These eye drops contain no added preservatives, so for people who are sensitive to certain preservatives or additives, this is the best option.  Preservative free tears are also a good choice for those who need to use lubricating eye drops frequently (more than 6 times per day). People who suffer from Meibomian gland dysfunction may find lipid-based artificial tears to be particularly beneficial.  These eye drops are formulated to restore necessary oils into the tear film and help improve ocular comfort.  You can also consider using a gel artificial tear, which is thicker than traditional lubricating drops.  Because of their thicker consistency, gel products are longer-lasting and can be used in more severe cases of dry eye disease.  

Products such as eye wash and saline can commonly be found among the artificial tears, but these products are not effective for the treatment of dry eye disease.  Eye wash can be useful for flushing irritants out of the eye, but it does not contain any ingredients that help lubricate and nourish the eye. In fact, excessive use of eye wash or saline can make symptoms of dry eye disease even worse by disrupting the natural tear film. 


Beware of Get the Red Out and Redness Relievers

Many eye products, such as Visine, advertise that they provide “redness relief.”  Most of these eye drops work by constricting the blood vessels in the front of the eye, making the eyes appear less red.  However, these drops do very little to address the underlying cause of redness. Many redness relievers have also been found to cause “rebound redness” after long-term use.  This means that when the active ingredient in the eye drop wears off, the eyes will become even more red. Instead of relying on these over-the-counter medications to reduce redness, talk to your optometrist about addressing the underlying cause of your red eyes


Eye Drops to Relieve Ocular Allergies

Ocular allergies can cause uncomfortable symptoms, most commonly including itching and irritation.  For those with mild to moderate cases of ocular allergies, there are some non-prescription medications that can provide significant relief.  These medications, which can be purchased at the drug store, are usually advertised as anti-itch medications or as relief for eye allergies. Look for active ingredients such as ketotifen or olopatadine.  If you suffer from ocular allergies, you can also consider using artificial tears and cool compresses to relieve symptoms. Remember that your optometrist will have the best recommendation for treatment options for ocular allergies. 

At EyeDocs Family Eye Care, you will recieve only the highest quality eye exam with our eye doctor in Brookville, Ohio.  Call us at 937-770-1265 or schedule an eye exam appointment online with Dr.Kyle Maxam or Dr. Kara Wampler for your eye exam with a Brookville eye doctor. The next time you need a recommendation for over-the-counter (OTC) eye drops  be sure to come to EyeDocs where we always put the care of you and your family first with our eye care in Brookville, OH.

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