Are Over the Counter Eye Drops Ideal for Dry Eye?

Eye drops are commonly used to treat dry eye symptoms. Are over-the-counter drops up to the task, or not?

Are Over the Counter Eye Drops Ideal for Dry Eye? in Bellflower

Amplify Eyecare of Greater Long Beach

Eye drops are a common, simple way to deal with dry eye symptoms. And, of course, over-the-counter options are easier to get than prescription versions. Let’s take a look at whether they can be effective.

The Purpose of Eye Drops for Dry Eye

Eye drops used for dry eye are generally not designed to fix whatever the dry eye’s underlying cause is, rather to alleviate the symptoms. To achieve this, they contain substances which help the eyes retain moisture, lubricants, and electrolytes.

Differences From Prescription Eye Drops

A main difference between over-the-counter and prescription eye drops is that prescription drops can also include medication to treat chronic eye problems. For this reason, most prescription drops should not be used for standard dry eye.

The Purpose of Eye Drops for Dry Eye

Types of Over the Counter Eye Drops

There are two types of over-the-counter eye drops: those with preservatives, and those that are preservative free.

Drops With Preservatives

Eye drops which contain preservatives will have a longer shelf life, as the preservative chemicals prevent bacteria from growing. For a customer, this means the bottle can be used for an extended length of time without concern of anything growing in the solution.

However, the chemicals can cause irritation to worsen, if used too often. For this reason, doctors recommend you not use these drops more than four times daily.

Preservative-Free Eye Drops

Preservative-free drops more commonly come in single-use vials, to prevent contamination of an open bottle. Due to the lack of preservatives, you will need to purchase more of it. However, if you need to apply the drops more than four times a day, this is the better option.

Risks of Over-the-Counter Eye Drops

Preservatives: Potential risks from eye drops can include the potential irritation if drops with preservatives are used too often. Additionally, some people may be sensitive to an ingredient in the preservatives, also leading to eye irritation. For people with particularly sensitive eyes, preservative free drops may be the safer option. Always take care to check the label of the eye drops you purchase.

Contamination: If the tip of the eye drop bottle touches the eye or another surface, it can become contaminated. To avoid this, be very careful when handling and applying the bottle while it is open.

The Purpose of Eye Drops for Dry Eye

Side Effects

Eye drops can lead to side effects, such as cloudy vision just after the application. Generally speaking, you should avoid operating a vehicle or heavy machinery for several minutes following the application of eye drops. 

Allergic reactions can also occur in some cases, so be alert for signs of an allergic reaction following application.

Dr. Ikeda cartoon

Summary

Over-the-counter eye drops can be a great option for alleviating symptoms of dry eye. However, it is still advisable to speak with an eye doctor prior to starting the use of eye drops. If you would like to make an appointment for a consultation, you can contact Amplify EyeCare of Greater Long Beach at (562) 925-6591.

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  • I haven't actually used the optometrist side, so my review is limited to the vision therapy offered.  This office was recommended by my occupational therapist for the treatment of my double vision following a stroke.


    Claire A.

  • Love this location. I had a brain injury accident from day one one. All the team make you feel you still important and hope in the horizon after when the medical system fell you miserably. Dr. Ikeda very professional and very understanding about your issue. Two tombs up.


    Jim K.

  • My husband and I were immediately impressed with Dr Ikeda. I was hit by a car while cycling which caused broken bones and three brain injuries. The brain injuries caused double vision. Dr. Ikeda examined my eyes and got me started on vision therapy with his occupational therapist who specializes in vision therapy.  She (Chris) is absolutely great.  I am impressed with the array of tools used to help recover my binocular vision.  I am doing things I never thought were possible (balance boards etc).  Chris pushes me and keeps me motivated. I really enjoy my sessions with her.  The office staff is always friendly and they have a wonderful appointment reminder tool that makes it easy to keep my calendar up to date. I am happy the rehab center at Little Co. of Mary recommended them!!


    Teresa S.

  • The Vision Therapy is handled in a separate office through a different door from the shared waiting room. Chris, the vision therapist, has a wide and varied assortment of tools, equipment and resources to best evaluate and treat most vision issues. After just a few visits, my double vision became easier to control, using exercises developed during the therapy process. It was time well-spent.


    Joe M.

  • I have been coming here since I can remember. I love it here. The staff is so amazing and nice. They explain everything they gonna do and never make you feel rushed. Dr. Ikeda has always been my doctor and I would never want another one. He is the doctor for my whole family and is always asking how everyone is doing. I am also so crazy about picking out my frames and have to try so many and each person who helps me take the time and lets me try them all on. I would never want to go anywhere else! I definitely would recommend this office to anyone looking for a great eye doctor.


    Kayla W.

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