If you’ve ever browsed the eye care section at your local grocery
store, you know the vast selection of
eye dropsand ointments available. How do you know which are right for you? How do
you know when you need to see your eye doctor for an eye drops prescription
rather than buying over-the-counter drops?
Knowing which eye drops or ointment you need depends on your symptoms and
eye condition. Below are several of the common
eye conditions requiring over-the-counter or prescription drops or ointments:
Dry eyes - Most of the time, dry eyes can be treated with over-the-counter lubricating
eye drops. You may experience dry eyes after reading or working on the
computer for a long time, being outside, not drinking enough water, flying
on an airplane, aging or just being tired. Over-the-counter eye drops
will provide relief for short-term dry eyes.
If you are looking for eye drops to treat dry eyes, be careful not to select
a decongestant eye drop, as those will actually dry your eyes out even
more. If over-the-counter lubricating eye drops or eye gel don’t
relieve your dry eyes, talk to your eye doctor for a prescription treatment.
Red eyes - Redness in the eyes is the symptom of another condition. For example, allergies,
dryness or infection can cause your eyes to become red. Decongestant eye
drops (also called eye whitening drops) are marketed to reduce red eyes,
but are really only a mask for the underlying condition.
If your eyes are red, it’s important that you find out the cause
of the redness so you can better treat red eyes. If your eyes are red
due to dry eyes or allergies, lubricating eye drops should do the trick.
If your eyes are red because of an eye infection, prescription eye drops
may be necessary.
Itching eyes - Seasonal allergies are usually the cause of itching eyes. Several over-the-counter
eye drops contain antihistamine, which will help reduce itchiness. Decongestant
eye drops also sometimes contain antihistamine and can be used short-term
to treat itchy eyes, but should not be used long-term. Severe itching
due to allergies may be treated with prescription eye drops, ointment
or oral medication.
Sore eyes - Like red eyes, soreness is often caused by another condition. Before buying
eye drops to treat sore eyes, it’s important to determine the underlying
cause. Your eyes may become sore from overuse or because they are dry,
in which case lubricating eye drops will provide relieve. Sore eyes may
also be caused by poor vision due to farsightedness, nearsightedness,
astigmatism or presbyopia. If soreness in your eyes persists, schedule
an eye exam with your eye doctor.
Infection - Pink eye is the most common eye infection. It can cause redness, itchiness
or soreness and discharge from the eye. Most of the time, pink eye caused
by varying types of conjunctivitis can be best treated with prescription
eye drops or ointment. Some over-the-counter lubricating drops will also
help. If you have an eye infection, be careful not to touch your eye with
the tip of your eye drop bottle, as you could spread infection.
Many eye conditions and their symptoms can be treated with over-the-counter
eye drops or ointments. If you’ve tried over-the-counter drops and
symptoms persist, contact your eye doctor for a prescription.
If you have other questions about eye drops, ask us in the comments below.
You can also ask any questions on our live Facebook chaton the first Thursday of every month!
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