Dry eye drops are preparations which are designed to moisturize and lubricate the eye to address the symptoms of dry eye. Numerous dry eye drops are available on the market in both prescription and over the counter formats. Ophthalmologists recommend that patients talk to their eye doctors before purchasing a dry eye product to get recommendations and to receive an eye exam if they have not been examined recently.
People with dry eye experience irritation and soreness in their eyes because the eye is not lubricated enough. Dry eye commonly appears as people get older, and it can be linked with a medical condition or appear independently. Depending on the cause, it may be possible to cure dry eye, or a patient may only be able to use various treatments to manage the condition. Dry eye drops are an easy solution to dry eye which may be tested before an eye doctor recommends more invasive or expensive techniques.
Simply adding a mild saline solution to the eye can bring mild relief, but as soon as the solution evaporates, the patient will experience discomfort again. For this reason, dry eye drops include lubricants which are designed to seal moisture into the eye, providing long-term relief from dry eye. Dry eye drops are distinct from products which are designed to address redness in the eyes, as they are specifically designed to help the eyes retain moisture, rather than to minimize the appearance of redness. Some drops are also capable of stimulating tear production, helping the eye lubricate itself as it would naturally.
People with chronic dry eye who are being seen by an ophthalmologist can access prescription dry eye drops, with several formulations available for patients with different conditions. Many over the counter products are equally effective and they can be less costly than prescriptions, which can be a concern for patients who will be using dry eye drops for life. However, not all over the counter products are created equal, and it is a good idea to talk to a doctor who can provide product suggestions which will meet a particular patient's needs.
Patients who wear contacts are not able to use all dry eye drops, because the drops can interfere with the contacts or damage them. For these patients, drops can only be applied when the contacts are out, or the patient will need to use dry eye drops when have been formulated for use with contacts. People with contacts should be especially careful about over the counter eye drops of any variety, as they are not always safe for use with contacts.