While eye drops and ointments can help your eyes feel better if they are dry, red, itchy, or irritated, it’s important to choose the right product to get the results you want.
Eye drops are special medicine designed to treat your eyes. Some eye drops are sold over-the-counter (OTC or without a prescription) and are good for relieving generic symptoms. Other drops are created to treat a particular vision condition and must be prescribed by a doctor or ophthalmologist (eye doctor). Even though the moisture from an eye drop stays in your eye, small amounts of the medicine in the drop can travel to other parts of your body. Some eye drops can even give you headaches, make your dizzy, or effect how fast your heart beats.
Picking the right eye drops
Here are a few of the reasons you might need to use eye drops and some suggestions for picking the right drops to relieve your symptoms:
• Dry eyes – OTC lubricating drops can help your eyes feel less dry and scratchy. Avoid drops with decongestants (sold for red eyes). The ingredients in decongestant drops can actually make your eyes drier. If you have long-term problems with dry eyes, you may benefit from a gel or ointment that can be used in your eyes overnight. Prescription drops and other drugs are also available for long-term dry eye.
• Red eyes – You may associate red eyes with allergies. But many other, possibly more serious conditions can also make your eyes red. Before using over-the-counter decongestant drops, it’s wise to see your eye doctor to rule out other issues. Decongestant drops work by shrinking the blood vessels in the eye to make the white part whiter. These drops can be addictive – you may find after you’ve used them for a while that your eyes only look white when you use the drops.
• Itchy, allergic eyes – Itchiness is usually caused by an allergic reaction to something. Your eyes may also be puffy and sore. It’s normal to want to rub your eyes when they itch, but it’s also the wrong thing to do. Rubbing just adds to the irritation and actually makes them itch more.