How to Choose the Right Eye Drops

Posted By Key-Whitman Eye Center || 7-Jun-2013

eyedrops22If 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 spread infection.

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 or ointment.

Categories: Eye Health
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