Are over the counter eye drops ideal for treating dry eye?

Published on
August 12, 2022

In the United States, dry eye disease affects 6.8% of the adult population. It depends on how severe your dry eyes are. Over-the-counter eye drops may be a great option for people who have milder cases of dry eyes and are looking for something to help alleviate their symptoms.

What are the types of over the counter eye drops?

After our eye doctor conducts a thorough dry eye evaluation, they will be able to determine what brand of artificial tears are best for you. The two main types of artificial tears are preservative artificial tears and preservative free artificial tears.

  • Preservative free eye drops - If you are sensitive to preservatives, or if your doctor believes you will benefit more from a preservative-free alternative, you can expect to receive those eye drops in a vial rather than a bottle. In these vials, you twist the front open, pour one drop into each eye, and then throw it away after one use. There is a possibility that you may be sensitive to the preservatives in the bottle, so using a preservative-free product may be more beneficial to you. This is especially true for someone who is using eye drops for extended periods of time.
  • Drops with preservatives - Preservatives in eye drops prevent bacteria from growing, thus extending their shelf life. As a result, patients can use the bottle for an extended period of time without worrying about bacteria growing in the solution.

Are over the counter eye drops always effective for dry eyes? When should you consider prescription eye drops? 

There are instances where patients may have more moderate to severe dry eyes, and standard over-the-counter artificial tears may not be sufficient to relieve their symptoms. In that case, your doctor may prescribe you prescription eye drops as well. Cequa, Xiidra, and Restasis are some of the prescription eye drops that are available. It's important to note that dry eye disease has an inflammatory component, and these drops contain cyclosporine or lifitegrast, which are medications that act against the inflammatory process that is impacting your tear film and tear ducts. By combating the inflammation Cequa, Xiidra, andRestasis are able to naturally increase tear production and reduce irritation caused by inflammation.  Therefore, these medications that your eye doctor prescribed will help alleviate the symptoms of dry eyes by addressing the inflammatory component.

Are eye drops the best treatment for dry eye symptoms?

Dry eye disease is a multifactorial disease, which means that it is really important for the eye doctor to understand the cause of your symptoms in order to properly treat it. In most cases eye drops are only a temporary symptom relief but do not address the reasons why you have inflammation, poor tear quality, poor tear volume, or excessive tears. To determine the best course of treatment for you, be sure to get a thorough dry eye examination from our eye doctors today.

Schedule an appointment

Over the counter eye drops can be helpful in alleviating dry eye symptoms. However, it is advised that you speak with an eye doctor before using eye drops. If you would like to make an appointment for a dry eye evaluation, you can contact Amplify EyeCare Manhattan at (212) 752-6930.

Testimonials


  • At Amplify with Dr Wernick I was seeking help for seemingly intractable, probably age-related dryness. I've seen other doctors about it, and that has been helpful, but what he explained to me about it and the careful way he answered all my questions gave me so much more of a clear understanding of what is going on (and is not) that I am more able to implement all his and others' recommendations than I was before. And he gave me additional resources for further follow-up. I am most grateful.


    Cynthia Norton

  • Wow! This is a great Eye Care medical facility. I was thoroughly examined by Dr. Pinkhasov for over 2 hours. She made sure to check my eyes for pretty much everything and patiently explained proper care for my eyes. They definitely know how to provide great care and treat their patients right. Now I know why they have such a great reputation and been around for so long.


    Steve Fay

  • Dr. Kavner is a gifted diagnostician and orthoptic therapist. He treated me several decades ago for a condition similar to dyslexia. I was having migraines five times per week. I worked with him for about a year and I experienced tremendous improvement (down to 3-4 per year) that has lasted.


    Mary K.

  • Dr. Kavner recommended two types of eye therapy for my daughter. One of them using bio-feedback. In just three sessions she is seeing considerably better. She shouted this morning: Ooh my God! I could not see these letters with my glasses on, and now I can see them without my glasses. If you are willing and able to invest in improving your vision, this is a good place to go to!


    Peter G.

  • Dr. Kavner recommended two types of eye therapy for my daughter. One of them using bio-feedback. In just three sessions she is seeing considerably better. She shouted this morning: Ooh my God! I could not see these letters with my glasses on, and now I can see them without my glasses. If you are willing and able to invest in improving your vision, this is a good place to go to!


    Kinkie F.

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