The Best Drops for Dry Eyes

Getting an effective eye drop for your dry eyes can be pretty confusing.  Have you ever walked down the eye care aisle at Target or Walmart?  There are dozens of drops and solutions available for dry eyes and contact lenses.

Now you are reading this and are probably thinking, “Well, you’re the doctor.  Which one should I buy for my dry eyes?”  And my answer is…

“It depends.”

I know, not an exciting answer.  The thing is there are many causes of dry eyes, and depending on the type of dryness the best eye drop or treatment regimen will vary.

I’m not going to leave you out to dry.  Sorry, no pun was intended there.  Let me give you some guidelines to help you.  Remember these are just broad generalizations. If you really want to get to the heart of the matter or you find that a particular drop doesn’t provide much relief for your dry eyes, please see your optometrist for a specific diagnosis and laser-guided treatment plan.


OK, so back to the eye drop aisle.  The truth is, almost any drop will make your eyes feel better for a short amount of time.  If you’re going to remember one thing about this article, please remember this: over the counter drops do nothing to solve the cause for your dry eyes, but rather they provide temporary relief from your symptoms.  The relief may last anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours.

ReNu Multiplus Lubricating and Rewetting Drops is a thinner solution that is helpful for mild dry eyes.  Because it is not very thick, it is good for contact lens wearers to instill while wearing their contact lenses.  The Renu drop is good for what is called acqueous deficient dry eyes, which means your eyes simply don’t produce enough tears.

Some people are sensitive to preservatives in eye drops and though they put “lubricating” drops in their eyes their condition appears to worsen.  This is due to their eyes reacting to the preservative that keeps the drop sterile in the bottle. Blink Tears is a helpful product because it uses a very mild preservative that is made inactive when it makes contact with the eye.

Systane Balance is specially formulated to provide relief for dry eyes caused by meibomian gland dysfunction.  MGD is an eyelid condition that inflames the eyelids and weakens the oily part of your tear film, allowing your tears to evaporate rapidly.  Fewer tears causes the burning and scratchy sensation of dry eyes.  This condition is very common in O’Fallon and my experience is that many patients have never been told about their condition by their previous eye doctor.

Finally, I would like to point about one of the most purchased eye drops.  Visine is incredibly popular because it advertises very heavily, but if you don’t select the right type of Visine you might not get the appropriate relief.  When you think of this brand you may remember the phrase “get the red out”.  This type of visine has tetrahydrozoline, which is a medication that makes the blood vessels on the white part of the eye get smaller, thus getting the red out.  However, tetrahydrozoline can have a mild irritating effect on the eye and make your eyes dryer.  So if you’re symptoms are red eye but not dryness, this product might be effective.  But if you your symptoms are primarily dry eyes (scratchy, burning eyes), you want to stay away from products that get the red out.

Hopefully if you are purchasing OTC drops you will find this helpful.  Please remember that dry eyes is multifactorial and circumstances like contact lens wear and other medical will complicate the condition.  If you don’t get adequate relief from the OTC products, see your optometrist for more specific treatment.

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