Dry eyes, itchy eyes, red eyes, sore eyes, swollen eyes, pink eye—there’s
an eye drop for that! The type of eye drops or ointment you need depends
on what eye condition you are trying to treat.
Note: If you are experiencing dryness, redness, infection, itching, soreness,
swelling or discharge in your eyes, it’s best to consult with your
eye doctor. The following is a general guideline for the types of eye
drops you may need to treat the various eye conditions.
Dry Eyes: If you’re suffering from dry eyes, over-the-counter lubricating eye
drops—also known as artificial tears—can provide short-term
relief when dry eyes are caused by weather conditions, tiredness or computer-related
eyestrain. Avoid decongestant eye drops if you have dry eyes. Eye gel
or ointment can help with long-term dry eye problems, and if over-the-counter
artificial tears don’t do the trick, your eye doctor can write a
prescription or suggest other treatment options for dry eyes.
Dry eyes and eye discomfort related to contact lenses might be treated
with rewetting drops specifically formulated for contact lenses.
Red Eyes: If redness is your ailment, then decongestant eye drops are the likely
solution. Decongestant eye drops contain vasoconstrictors, which shrink
the tiny blood vessels in the whites of the eye, thus reducing the appearance
of redness. If your eyes are red from allergies, tiredness or dryness,
lubricating eye drops are recommended instead of decongestant eye drops.
Decongestant eye drops should not be used long-term, as they can cause
adverse effects when used too often and the eye can develop a tolerance
to decongestant eye drops, resulting in even greater redness.
Allergies and Itching Eyes: Antihistamine eye drops are formulated to treat itching caused by allergies.
In addition to treating itchiness, if your eyes are irritated, red, watery
or puffy due to allergies, antihistamine eye drops are the solution. If
over-the-counter antihistamine eye drops don’t alleviate your symptoms,
see your eye doctor for prescription eye drops and/or oral medications.
Soreness, Swelling, or Eye Discharge: If you experience regular soreness in your eyes, it may be due to eye
strain related to a vision problem such as nearsightedness, farsightedness,
astigmatism or presbyopia. See your eye doctor for an exam to treat any
underlying problem that may be causing your eyes to be sore.
If your eyes are sore from crying or discharge or swelling related to allergies,
lubricating eye drops should provide some relief. If you have thick, yellow
discharge from your eye, it may be due to an eye infection, which would
require prescription antibiotic eye drops.
Pink Eye and Eye Infections: Over-the-counter lubricating eye drops can provide temporary relief from
symptoms caused by an eye infection, but if the infection is bacterial,
it should be treated with prescription eye drops from your eye doctor.
If you experience long-term symptoms or over-the-counter eye drops don’t
provide relief from your symptoms, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor.