What eye drops should I get and can I use them with my contact lenses? This is one of the most common questions I get from patients on a daily basis. Unfortunately, most of the population does not ask the question and there are so many options to choose from. I am going to go over 3 things:

  1. Why do you need drops
  2. Drops I do and do not recommend
  3.  What the next steps are

Why do you need eye drops?

In order to get the right over the counter eye drops, you need to know why your eyes are dry. In the simplest terms possible there are two types of dryness: 1. Aqueous (lack of tear production) or 2. Evaporative (lack of oil production). 86% of dryness is due to the evaporative mechanism. However; the majority of artificial tears are formulated to treat the aqueous component!

What drops should I get?

As you can see the whole system is set up for failure, but you are one of the lucky few who will know what you need and get the drops that will provide the most benefit. The key is finding an eye drop that addresses the lipid layer of the tear film. This is the layer that provides stability to the tear film and keeps them on your eyes. 

Systane Complete and Systane Balance are the drops I recommend that specifically address this oil layer. Systane Complete also has a preservative free (PF) option. The regular and PF versions address the aqueous and evaporation component all in one drop. 

Avoid anything that says “get the red out” like Clear Eyes or Visine. These have components that will actually cause more redness over time! If you need a quick fix or redness is your concern Lumify is a drop to eliminate redness that does not have the rebound redness concern. Realize that any redness drops are merely reducing the appearance of red in your eyes. They are doing nothing to address the underlying condition.

Where do you go from here?

If you have to use drops more than once per day or you feel the inclination to use drop, you have a dry eye issue. Remember this does not necessarily mean your eyes are not wet, but that your tear film is unstable. There are a variety of reasons this could be happening and the best way to figure it out is with a dry eye evaluation from an eye doctor that specializes in dry eye and ocular surface disease. They will be able to tell you what kind of dry eye you have and provide therapy to address the underlying cause. These specific doctors will have options for at home and in office, not merely drop based therapies.

In summary, get a drop that addresses the root cause of your dryness, make sure you get an evaluation with a doctor who can customize treatment to your situation (click here to schedule a dry eye evaluation with us), and take steps to reduce or eliminate eye drops in your life!