Suffering from dry or irritated eyes? If you’re like most people, your first response is to reach for some eye drops. But which ones? What you might not know is that there are different types of eye drops, each made for a specific eye condition. Pick the wrong one and you might actually make your symptoms worse. We’re here to help you pick the right eye drops so you can properly care for your eyes.
There are four main types of eye drops: artificial tears, allergy drops, anti-redness drops and contact lens rewetting drops.
Reach for artificial tears when you have dry eyes. They are designed to keep the surface of your eyes moist. They do so by mimicking the real tears our bodies produce. While ingredients vary across brands, most artificial tears include lubricants, electrolytes like sodium and potassium and guar gum. Check the label to see if it has preservatives, which are added to keep bacteria from growing inside the bottle. Some preservatives might actually make your dry eyes worse—and some people are allergic to these preservatives.
Suffering from itchy, watery, red eyes caused by common allergens like pet dander, pollen and mold? Reach for allergy drops. When you have an allergic reaction, your body releases histamines—this is what triggers your runny nose and itchy eyes. The main ingredient in allergy drops is an antihistamine, which blocks the histamines in your body from working and prevents those pesky allergy symptoms.
Have red, bloodshot eyes? Reach for anti-redness drops, which are also known as decongestant drops. These drops have an ingredient called a vasoconstrictor that shrinks the blood vessels on the surface of your eye to make the redness go away. But use them with caution. If you use them for more than a few days, they can actually irritate your eyes and make the redness worse. Your eyes can also get dependent on them and may get red when you stop using the drops. Do not use anti-redness drops if you have dry eyes.
Contact lens rewetting drops
There are also special drops for contact lens wearers. Are your contacts feeling dry and uncomfortable? Grab a bottle of rewetting drops to keep your lenses lubricated. These drops use different preservatives to help coat your contact lenses and prevent liquid from evaporating. This can help them feel more comfortable in your eyes. Remember to ask your doctor what other types of eye drops you can use because not all types or brands are recommended for use with contact lenses.
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