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Best Over The Counter Eye Drops

Views: 11061
Reviewed by Nymark M, PhD on April 28, 2016

A quick look in your nearest drug store will reveal many different eye drops. They come in various types and brands, and it can be quite overwhelming to choose the one that is just right for you. Obviousy, different eye drops have different chemical compositions and your eyes will react to them differently. Most people have to try to quite a number of over the counter eye drops before finding the one that works best for them.

Different Types of Drops

Instead of starting at one end of the eye drops shelf and working your way down to the other end, trying each product until you find one that works, you should make an effort to narrow your choices down a bit more. This means you first need to determine what you need the drops for. Perhaps you suffer from dry eye syndrome (DES), maybe you wear contact lenses, perhaps you have allergies, or maybe you have developed computer vision syndrome (CVS). You also have to think about whether you want drops, gels, or ointments. Doing that will help you reduce the list of possible choices.

Another thing to look into are preservatives. A lot of drops have preservatives in them, which stop bacteria from growing. These drops are often a bit stronger and they tend to be perfect for people who sometimes accidentally touch their eyes. However, they can also start to get irritating, particularly after prolonged use. Hence, if you suffer from serious dryness, meaning you have to use drops more than five times per day, you may want to avoid these. Drops without preservatives are usually marketed as being “single use”. They tend to be more expensive as well.

Last but not least, you may have a poor production of oil in your tear film. In this case, you should use drops that contain oil. This can be beneficial, for instance, if you have rosacea. Most of the time, however, you will need prescription eye drops at this point. Nevertheless, some over the counter remedies do also exist.

Thinking about the above will help you to narrow down the choices you have available. That being said, there is still a myriad of products available. Below are what are classed as the best over the counter eye drops to help you get started in your search.

  1. HypoTears

HypoTears is an ocular lubricant. It is designed to moisten the eyes and to relieve discomfort, burning, and irritation, which are all caused by dry eyes. It is a very popular lubricant, also due to the fact that it has no known drug interactions.

Main active ingredient: Polyvinyl Alcohol, Polyethylene Glycol 400

Contains preservatives? Yes

  1. Moisture Eyes PM

Moisture Eyes PM is a night time relief for DES and was developed by pharmaceutical giant Bausch & Lomb. People find it a very beneficial product to use at night. However, those who suffer from DES as a result of LASIK eye surgery are often less enthusiastic. In that case, the ophthalmologist should have made recommendations in terms of which drops and lubricants should be used.

Main active ingredient: Ocular lubricant ophthalmic

Contains preservatives? No

  1. Similasan Computer Eye Relief

This product uses 100% natural active ingredients. It is a very popular product that receives consistent five star reviews. Similasan has created a number of different eye drops, and this one is particularly suitable for people who suffer from CVS.

Main active ingredient: Homeopathic remedies

Contains preservatives? No

  1. Refresh

Refresh is one of the best known dry eye treatment eye drops out there. A lot of people don’t enjoy using it, as it can cause temporary blurry vision and irritation. However, doctors often recommend it, because it is very strong, particularly for an over the counter remedy, and does really work.

Main active ingredient: Carboxymethylcellulose, dextran, glycerin, hypromellose, polyethylene glycol 400 (PEG 400), polysorbate, polyvinyl alcohol, povidone, or propylene glycol

Contains preservatives? No

  1. TheraTears

TheraTears is a brand name for a range of different products, as the company has developed drops, gels and ointments for a range of different situations. However, most people know them for their lubricant eye drops, which are also their best reviewed product.

Main active ingredient: Sodium carboxy-methylcellulose 0.25%

Contains preservatives? Yes

  1. Bion Tears

Bion Tears hasn’t got the global recognition that many of the other brands seem to have. However, it has received a mention in Review of Ophthalmology as an excellent preservative free eye drop. In it, Bion Tears are described as HMC-based artificial tears that are free from preservatives. Essentially, the drops aim to heal the surface of the eye. They are said to be particularly good for severe dry eye.

Main active ingredient: Dextran 70 (Dextran 70), Hypromellose 2910 (4000 Mpa.s)

Contains preservatives? No

  1. Systane Ultra Lubricant Eye Drops

Systane helps people who have irritation in their eyes, or a sensation of burning, particularly that which is caused by poor tear quality. It helps to increase the tear break up time, thereby ensuring the tear film remains on the eye for longer. It is also strengthens the tear film, so that the ocular surface is better protected in between blinks.

Main active ingredient: Polyethylene Glycol 400 0.4%, Propylene Glycol 0.3%

Contains preservatives? Yes, but a preservative free version is also available.

  1. Sooth XP

Soothe XP, like Moisture Eyes MP, was developed by Bausch & Lomb. It is particularly popular among dry eye sufferers because it is said to be very easy to use. However, its effectiveness is in question. Again, this is because most people will have to try a range of different products before finding the one that is right for them.

Main active ingredient: Octoxynol-40

Contains preservatives? Yes

  1. Refresh Optive

Refresh Optive has been particularly well received by people who have had cataract surgery, so much so, in fact, that many people prefer its effects to those experienced from the prescription eye drops they are generally provided with. Created by Allergan, it is also often used by people who suffer from allergies in their eyes, although this is simply by assumption due to the name. Refresh Optive is created for the treatment of dry eyes, not allergies, although it can provide relief in people with allergies who find that their eyes have become dry and irritated.

Main active ingredient: Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium, Glycerin

Contains preservatives? No

  1. GenTeal Gel

This is a gel rather than a drop and it is particularly suitable for people who suffer from extreme dry eyes, although it can also be used in milder cases. It helps to restore the quality of the tear film, as well as prevent the moisture from draining away. GenTeal is a product created by Alcon, which is the eye care development company that forms part of Novartis. It comes in various forms for treating mild to severe DES. All strengths are gel drops. This means that they are best for use at night, just before bedtime.

Main active ingredient: Carbopol 980, phosphonic acid

Contains preservatives? Yes

These are just 10 of the different eye drops that are out there, but they are the best known, most recommended, and highest reviewed. Yet it is very much possible that you will find relief in a very different product. Unfortunately, most of us will have to go through a period of trial and error before finding something that works.

Resources and References:

Great Eye Drops for Dry Eyes – Information on eye drops for treating dry eyes. (Health Line)

I Have Dry Eyes. What Should I Look for When Selecting Artificial Tears? – Tips on what to look for when choosing artificial tears. (Mayo Clinic)

Which Drop for Dry Eye? – Recommendation on which eye drops to use for dry eyes. (Review of Ophthalmology)