When someone visits their local pharmacy there are so many different options for eye drops and oftentimes the eye drops only provide momentary relief. In this blog we are going to discuss various eye drops that you can use for your dry eyes. We will also explain why it is critical that you first have a dry eye evaluation to understand what is causing your dry eye, and only then purchase eye drops. This is because eye drops can actually make your dry eye worse if they are not specifically targeting the cause of your symptoms.  Let's begin by discussing what dry eyes are.

What are dry eyes?

Dry eyes is a multifactorial disease that affects the front surface of your eyes. It may result in insufficient tear production, or there may be a problem with the outermost oil layer of your tears, resulting in tears evaporating much more quickly and causing film instability. Inflammation and damage to the ocular surface are also associated with dry eyes.

Why do I need a dry eye evaluation?

During the dry eye evaluation our eye doctors will examine your tear film and your glands, while also talking with you about your medications and lifestyle. This is extremely important to determine what treatment is appropriate. As an example if your condition is caused by clogged oil glands, taking eye drops that are water based can actually make your symptoms worse.

Should you use eye drops for dry eye?

In many cases eye drops are like a temporary band-aid that does not address what is causing your symptoms. While our eye doctors will likely recommend specific eye drops to alleviate symptoms, they generally will do that in combination with a treatment plan to treat the underlying reason that you are experiencing discomfort.

What are the symptoms of dry eyes?

Different symptoms can be associated with dry eyes, including:

What are the various different eye drops for dry eyes?

You may be prescribed eye drops by your eye doctor to alleviate your symptoms of dry eyes. For each specific patient, there are different eye drops that are best depending on their severity.

  • Over the counter artificial tears - For milder cases of dry eyes, our eye doctor may only recommend that you buy over-the-counter artificial tears. Overuse of over the counter eye drops that use preservatives can lead to additional inflammation, so this is only recommended for patients that use eye drops once in a while.
  • Preservative free option - However, if you notice that you're using these artificial tears every day, you might want to get the preservative-free option that comes in vial so that even if you use them more often throughout the day, it won't damage your eyes.
  • Lipid based eye drops and gel - When your symptoms are caused by evaporative dry eyes, there is a problem with the oil layer of the tears resulting in your tears evaporating much more rapidly. In addition to lipid-based eye drops, our eye doctor may also recommend a gel eye drop that is viscous, which is usually instilled at the end of the day at night so that this gel eye drop will stay on the surface of your eye, reducing the amount of tears that evaporate. It also helps to provide lubrication for your eyes. In many cases the treatment for this cause of dry eye is to heat the oil glands in your eyelids in order to unclog them and allow for natural oil production.
  • Prescription eye drops - Depending on your severity, your eye doctor may also prescribe prescription eye drops. Prescription eye drops help reduce the inflammation on the front surface of the eye by targeting the inflammatory component of dry eye. These eye drops include Restasis, Xiidra and Cequa eye drops. These drops come in vials, and they should be taken once in the morning and once in the evening.
Visit a Dry Eye vision clinic at an Amplify EyeCare practice near you:


Contact Us To Amplify Your EyeCare