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What Are The Best Eye Drops For Dry Eyes?

Eye drops are a very popular treatment for dry eye. But which eye drops are best for you?

What Are The Best Eye Drops For Dry Eyes? in Bellflower

Amplify Eyecare of Greater Long Beach

Eye drops, also known as artificial tears, are a very common, and popular treatment for dry eye. However, not all eye drops are created equal. Some have more specific uses, and others work better for different people.

Eye Drops for Dry Eye

Eye drops help relieve dry eye symptoms by keeping the eyes moist and lubricated, though they aren’t designed to treat underlying causes of dry eye.

However, for dry eye caused by things like fatigue, or environmental factors, eye drops can be a great way to alleviate symptoms.

Eye drops are typically available over the counter, and are made with some of the same ingredients as natural tears, such as electrolytes, giving them better ability to protect the surface of your eyes.

However, there is additional information about common ingredients in eye drops, which anyone considering using them should be aware of.

Eye Drops for Dry Eye
Preservatives and Preservative-Free Eye Drops

Preservatives and Preservative-Free Eye Drops

Many eye drops contain preservatives meant to prevent bacteria growth in the liquid once it’s opened.

Common preservatives found in eye drop solutions include:

  • Ocupure
  • Polyquad
  • Benzalkonium chloride
  • Purite
  • Sodium perborate

For most people, these preservatives pose no problem. However, they may irritate some people's eyes, especially if they have severe dry eye. If you suffer from moderate or severe dry eye, and have to use dry eye multiple times per day, you might be better off with preservative-free drops (they will be labeled as such).

Preservatives and Preservative-Free Eye Drops

Lipid-Based Drops

This type of eye drop is designed for people suffering from evaporative dry eye, where the eyes get dry because the tears do not make enough oil or make low-quality oil, and thus evaporate too quickly.

Lipid-based eye drops are meant to help improve the tear film and keep your eyes moist.

Ingredients in lipid-based eye drops include 

  • Glycerin
  • Hydroxypropyl-guar
  • Mineral oil
  • Castor oil

Eye Drops You Should Avoid

Not all over the counter eye drops are artificial tears. There are some types of drops you should avoid unless a doctor recommends them to you.

Allergy Eye Drops: Eye drops meant to alleviate allergy symptoms are not meant for standard dry eye, and should not be used for that purpose. Examples of allergy eye drops include ketotifen fumarate and olopatadine hydrochloride.

Redness-Relieving Eye Drops: Redness-relieving drops are used to reduce eye redness caused by things like allergies, contact lenses, or smoke inhalation. If they are used too often, these drops can cause rebound redness, which makes the eyes even redder. These drops should only be used for red eyes and only for short periods of time. For many people ,preservative-free drops may be more helpful for reducing redness.

Redness-relieving drops can include naphazoline or tetrahydrozoline.

Antibiotic Eye Drops: Eye drops designed to treat eye infections are prescription-only, and should only be used for that purpose. Common antibiotic eye drops include azithromycin and tobramycin.

Eye Drops for Dry Eye
Preservatives and Preservative-Free Eye Drops

What Should I Do If I Wear Contacts?

Artificial tears can help relieve the dryness caused by wearing contact lenses. However, there are some things you should bear in mind.

Before using eye drops with contact lenses, make sure that you can safely use them while wearing contacts. Many types of eye drops are safe to use while wearing contacts, but some, with thicker formulas, may advise you to wait before inserting contacts after use. Be sure to carefully read the product label and instructions.

Rewetting drops can be a good option as well. They are specifically meant to make it more comfortable to wear your contact lenses. They will be labeled “for contact lenses”, and sold near contact lens solutions. When using, be sure to follow the instructions.

In all cases ,you should speak with your doctor if you’re thinking about using eye drops for contact lens discomfort. They will be better able to recommend what your should take, and can even recommend different types of lenses which may be more comfortable to wear.

Common Questions

There are various treatments used to help people who suffer from dry eyes. The type of treatment depends on the severity and type of dry eyes (aqueous or evaporative). One treatment option is to apply warm compresses 2x a day for 10 minutes over your eyes with lid massage and lid scrubs. Also using over the counter artificial tears 2-4x a day can reduce your dryness. If your dry eyes are more severe, you can also add a gel drop or ointment at night, and/or add prescription eye drops for dry eyes, such as Restasis or Xiidra. Dry eye is a multifactorial disease of the ocular surface, and one component that causes dry eyes is ocular surface inflammation and damage; so Xiidra and Restasis work by regulating the inflammatory processes in the eye that can affect tear production. Another treatment for dry eyes is to have your eye doctor insert punctal plugs in the inner corners of your eyes, which partially closes one of your tear ducts to allow your tears to stay longer on the front surface of your eyes and keep your eyes lubricated. There are also other in-office devices such as LipiFlow, iLUX, TearCare, Intense Pulsed Light, or Blephex that your eye doctor can use to treat your symptoms of dryness. Furthermore, changing your environment can also help reduce your dry eyes, such as adding a humidifier to your room or taking frequent breaks from your digital devices.
Depending on the severity of your dry eyes there are different eye drops we would recommend. If you have the milder version of dry eyes then over the counter artificial tears such as Systane Balance or Refresh Optive Artificial Tears may be sufficient enough to help relieve your symptoms of dry eyes. However, if you have more moderate/severe dry eyes a more viscous drop such as a gel drop or ointment may be more beneficial. In the event that over the counter eye drops are not providing much relief, there are other various prescription eye drops that your eye doctor can prescribe, such as Restasis or Cequa or Xiidra. Dry eye is a multifactorial disease of the ocular surface, and one component that causes dry eyes is ocular surface inflammation and damage; so Xiidra and Restasis/Cequa work by regulating the inflammatory processes in the eye that can affect tear production.
What Are The Best Eye Drops For Dry Eyes?
Dr. Ikeda cartoon


Eye drops can be an effective way to treat dry eye symptoms. However, be aware of what type of eye drops you buy, so that you purchase a product that will be effective for your needs. If you have additional questions, or would like to schedule an appointment, you can contact Amplify EyeCare of Greater Long Beach at (562) 925-6591. Patients with dry eyes visit our clinic from all over California, and we are proud to be a leading provider of dry eye care for patients from Bellflower, Long Beach, Lakewood, and Los Angeles.


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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.

This is not for the eye exam but for the frames selection portion. I brought my prescription from Kaiser here with my VSP insurance. The reception staff was very polite and professional.  Manny helped me to pick out frames and explain my coverage.  Very helpful and patient not like the individual at the other place I rated here on Yelp.  I was running late and he still helped me and was not bothered at all.  I am so glad I came here ..........very pleased.

Very professional staff and pleasant.

Daniel G.
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