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In this article
Best for Dry Eyes: Refresh Plus Lubricant Eye Drops
Best for Contact Lenses: Opti-Free Replenish Rewetting Drops
Best for Redness: LUMIFY Redness Reliever
Best for Itchiness & Allergies: Zaditor Antihistamine Eye Drops
Eye drops are a safe and effective treatment for many eye conditions. They can help you find relief if you experience:
However, there are many different kinds of eye drops. Each type is designed to treat a certain set of conditions.
To find relief, you must make sure you’re using the correct type of eye drops. This guide will explain the different kinds of eye drops available, what they treat, and the best brands.
This guide does not replace advice from your doctor. Certain medical eye drops are only available with a prescription. If you have any questions about your eye health, make an appointment with an eye doctor.
The most common type of eye drops are lubricating eye drops, or artificial tears. They treat dry eyes caused by:
The ingredients in lubricating eye drops add moisture to your eye’s surface. This is why they’re also known as artificial tears.
There are two categories of lubricating eye drops:
Avoid decongestant (whitening) eye drops if you’re looking for dry eye relief. They may improve the appearance of your eyes in the short-term. But they can make dry eye symptoms worse in the long run.
If you have mild to moderate dry eye, lubricating eye drops may help you. If artificial tears do not improve your symptoms, consult a physician.
Rewetting drops are made specifically for contact lens wearers. They provide relief for dryness and discomfort brought on by wearing contact lenses.
Not all lubricating eye drops are compatible with contact lenses. You may need to remove your contacts before applying them.
If your contact lenses are causing dry eye or discomfort, rewetting drops may help. If you believe your eye dryness is caused by something else, contact your eye doctor.
Read about the best eye drops for contact lenses.
Decongestant eye drops treat red eyes. They contain vasoconstrictors, which shrink the blood vessels in your eye, reducing redness.
Decongestant eye drops can help improve the appearance of your eyes. However, they can mask the underlying causes of dry eyes.
Anti-redness drops can irritate your eyes if you use them too much. Additionally, your eyes can get dependent on them.
You should only use decongestant eye drops intermittently. They are made to improve the appearance of your eyes, not treat any eye conditions.
Antihistamine eye drops treat itchy, watery, red eyes caused by allergic reactions. These may be caused by:
When your body has an allergic reaction, it releases histamines. These cause allergy symptoms such as runny nose, itchy eyes, etc.
Allergy eye drops contain antihistamines, which stop the effects of histamines. Therefore, antihistamine eye drops are only effective at treating symptoms due to allergies.
Read more about antihistamine eye drops.
Antibiotic (antibacterial) eye drops treat bacterial eye infections. Common eye infections include:
Antibiotic eye drops will NOT cure viral or fungal infections. Lubricating eye drops can help relieve symptoms of infections.
If you have an eye infection, it’s best to speak with an eye doctor before purchasing any eye drops.
Antifungal eye drops are used to treat fungal infections.
Follow these step-by-step instructions to put in eye drops:
Before you handle your eye drops, make sure you know what you’re doing. If your eye drops are prescription, listen to your doctor. If your drops are over-the-counter, read the instructions entirely.
Before touching your eyes or eye drops, wash your hands. Be especially careful around the tip of your dropper. If you touch the dropper tip, it could pick up bacteria from your fingers. This could potentially contaminate the eye drops.
You can stand, sit, or lay down to put in eye drops. Whatever makes you comfortable and helps you keep your eyes open. Shake the bottle vigorously before opening it.
Once you’re comfortable, the bottle is shaken and open, look up. Some people say that focusing on a specific point on the ceiling can help. Use one hand to pull your lower eyelid down. This forms a pocket to help “catch” the drop.
Using your other hand, position the dropper over your eye. Slowly squeeze the bottle until one drop falls onto your eye.
Once the eye drop is in, close your eye for two minutes. After two minutes, the drop is fully absorbed.
If you are supposed to put in more drops, you can then repeat the procedure. Keep your eye closed for two minutes between each drop.
In addition to eye drops, there are other ways to help provide relief for dry eyes. These include:
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