If you’ve ever shopped for eye drops before, you know how many choices
are available. How do you know which eye drops are right for you? How
do you know when you need to see your eye doctor for a prescription rather
than buying over-the-counter drops? Knowing which eye drops or ointment
you need depends on your symptoms and eye condition. Dry eyes, red eyes,
itching eyes, eye pain and infection all have different causes and may
require different treatments.
Here are some common over-the-counter and prescription eye drops and ointments
available to treat different eye conditions:
Treatments for dry eyes
In most cases, dry eyes can be treated with over-the-counter, lubricating
eye drops such as TheraTears, gel agent drops like Systane, or preservative
drops such as GenTeal. Dry eyes can also be treated with supplements like
the Science Based Health supplement for dry eyes,
HydroEye®. Restasis is also a well-known prescription medication for dry eye that
reduces inflammation and helps produce more tears that do not dry up as fast.
LipiFlow® is a treatment for dry eye syndrome that can be performed in your eye
doctor’s office. LipiFlow is designed to treat not only the symptoms
of dry eye, but also rather the root cause of the dry eye—Evaporative
Dry Eye. The LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation system allows doctors to treat
Evaporative Dry eye by relieving obstructions of the blocked eyelid glands
by applying a combination of heat therapy and pressure to the glands.
LipiFlow an in-office treatment that opens blocked eyelid glands, making
way for the natural production of oils (lipids) necessary for the tear
film of the eye. Patients who undergo the LipiFlow treatment are able
to resume normal life, often free from the irritation and blurred vision
associated with dry eyes. Read this article for more information on LipiFlow.
Treatments for red eyes
Redness in the eyes may be a symptom of allergies, dryness or infection.
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 the condition. If your eyes are
red due to dryness or allergies, lubricating over-the-counter eye drops
like Visine may do the trick. But if your eyes are red because of an eye
infection, prescription eye drops may be necessary.
Treatments for allergies and itchy eyes
Seasonal allergies are usually the cause of itchy eyes. Several over-the-counter
eye drops like Visine-A and Naphcon-A contain antihistamines, which will
help reduce itchiness. Decongestant eye drops sometimes contain antihistamines
as well. These 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.
Treatments for soreness, swelling or discharge
Like red eyes, soreness, swelling or discharge 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.
Pink eye, or conjunctivitis, is the most common type of eye infection.
It can cause redness, itchiness or soreness and discharge from the eye.
Most of the time, pink eye is caused by a bacterial infection and is 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
Contact Key-Whitman and
schedule an appointment for an eye exam if you are noticing symptoms such as soreness, itching or discharge. After
an exam, your eye doctor will be able to recommend the right treatment
for your eye condition, or will write you a prescription for eye drops