DRY EYE PRODUCTS (ARTIFICIAL TEARS) - a patient's guide
- Eye drops with preservative: Liquifilm Tears, Liquifilm Forte, Tears Plus, Isopto Tears, Methopt, Tears Naturale, Polytears, Viscotears.
- Preservative-free drops: Refresh, Cellufresh, Celluvisc, Polytears Free.
- Ointments: Lacrilube, Duratears.
Use: Dry Eyes
The tear ducts usually keep the eyes moist all day. However, sometimes not enough tears are produced, for example due to Sjogren's syndrome. Some medicines can also cause dry eyes, e.g. tricyclic antidepressants, decongestants and some medicines for Parkinson's disease. Some people just develop dry eyes as they become older.
Eye drops or eye ointments for dry eyes keep the eye moist and therefore make it feel more comfortable. Eye ointments usually cause blurring of the vision, so may be a second choice to eye drops unless the eye is extremely dry. Blurred vision is less important if the ointment is applied at bedtime, and the ointment may provide relief for longer than the drops. The different brands of eye drops for dry eye may contain different ingredients or different strengths, so you may need to try different drops to find one you like the most (your pharmacist or doctor should be able to advise you on this).
Eye drops come in bottles which contain preservative and can be used for 1 month after opening, or small vials for one use (single-use vials). The single-use vials should each be only used once then thrown away. Some people can become sensitive to some of the preservatives, in this case switch to one with a different preservative or to the single-use vials.
If you have dry eyes it is important to keep them moist using dry eye products. You can use these products as often as you want to.
The dry eye products listed above do not contain a decongestant (or vasoconstrictor) which is for "red eye", and should not be used for too long. These "red eye" products are not covered in this article.
The medical name for dry eyes is keratoconjunctivitis sicca.
Sometimes you can become sensitive or allergic to the preservative, in which case you will need to switch to a different eye drop with a different preservative, or to the single-use vials without preservatives.
If you wear contact lenses it is very important to keep your eyes moist, but make sure that the eye drops you use are compatible with your contact lenses.
- Blurred vision
- Follow the instructions on the label of the medicine or as directed by your doctor.
- The eye drops should not be used longer than one month after opening the container because they can get bugs (e.g. bacteria) in the bottle.
- Do not share eye drops with other people.
- Do not regularly use "red eye" products for dry eye, e.g. eye drops containing naphazoline, tetrahydrozoline or phenylephrine. "Red eye" products are only for short-term use.
- Let your doctor know if you have an ongoing dry eye problem as he/she may need to investigate the possible cause.
- These eye drops can be prescribed by a doctor or can be bought without a prescription.
How to use:
- Wash the hands before using eye drops or ointment.
- Shake the bottle and remove the lid. Take care that the tip of the dropper bottle or ointment tube do not come into contact with the skin or eyes (this helps to stop bacteria getting in it).
- Tilt the head back, gently pull the skin below the eye downwards then tip the eye drop bottle upside down and allow a drop to fall into the little pocket created by pulling the lower eyelid down.
- If using an ointment gently pull the skin below the eye downwards, squirt about a centimetre of ointment from the tube and drop that into the little pocket between the lower eyelid and the eye - try not to touch the ointment or the nozzle with your fingers.