Eye Drops: What to Know Before You Buy

Posted By Key-Whitman Eye Center || 15-Jun-2012

eye-drop-01If 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!

When considering your eye care, be sure to stay up to date with the latest news and information about our life-changing services at Key-Whitman Eye Center. Follow us on Facebookand Twitterto stay connected!

Categories: Eye Care Tips, Eye Health
Blog Home
  • Certified

    As a team of Board Certified Specialists, we are the qualified surgeons you can rely on to handle your procedure.

  • Experienced

    Our professionals have been devoted to serving the Dallas/ Fort Worth Metroplex for more than 50 years.

  • Advanced

    Our surgeons utilize only the most state-of-the-art equipment and techniques, all which are approved by the FDA.

  • Dedicated

    We are passionate about providing a lifetime of high quality, specialized eye care to meet our patients' needs.

  • Welcoming

    Our patients are our top priority, and every person who walks through our doors is treated with respect and care.

  • Award-Winning

    As a highly rated facility, our list of honors includes the Angie's List Super Service Award in Eye Care – Ophthalmology.