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What Is The Best Eye Drop For Me?

For people with eye dryness, adding more tears seems an obvious choice. For many people, that works well, assuming they find the right brand and product type. If a person uses eye drops more than 4–6 times daily, it indicates it's time to visit a dry eye expert. Schirmer's test (as part of a screening test) can show which of the three tear layers has a problem, and treatment can be targeted to the individual.

There are five main categories to look at when choosing the best eye drops to fortify dry eyes.

  1. Artificial Tears with preservatives. These come in a bottle for multiple uses and contain chemicals to discourage the growth of bacteria in a person's eyes. Some people find these irritating with frequent use. If so, it's best to try a preservative-free brand.

  2. Preservative Free Artificial Tears, known as the safest solution for adding moisture to the eyes, these liquid tears are recommended if a person is using drops more than 3-4 times per day or if their eyes feel irritated from the solution with preservatives. (Eye irritation may be red, swollen, irritated, itchy, or show signs of crust.) These are individually packaged for single use only and are more expensive.

  3. Gel eye drops. Also, a form of artificial tears, their strength is in lubrication. As the name implies, these are thicker, gel-like substance that mimics the natural oils in the outer layer of our tear film. It's good to be aware that these drops can temporarily blur a person's vision after application. Many people choose to use it at night before going to bed.

  4. Redness relief. These eye drops shrink the blood vessels near the eyes' surface to reduce redness. Some people may have a rebound effect from using these. For chronically red eyes, it's recommended to use artificial tears instead. If the redness persists, it's a good idea to consult a dry eye expert to determine the cause.

  5. Prescription eye drops. They are used for moderate to severe cases, such as dry eyes caused by internal health conditions such as autoimmune disorders or eye injuries. The addition of cyclosporine has the added effect of reducing eye swelling by suppressing the immune system response. Results can take a few weeks to be noticed.

Other prescription eye drops for severe dry eye conditions include steroid-based and autologous serum tears, which are made from the individual's blood.

Several manufacturers make drops, and there are no "one-size fits." If one brand doesn't work, try another until you find the most suitable one for your eyes.

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