Eye drops can provide effective relief when you have itchy eyes, dry eyes, red eyes, or uncomfortable contact lenses. But are you using the wrong type of eye drops for your condition, and is it possible that the eye drops you are using are hurting your contact lenses, if you wear them? Check out the following short guide to eye drops, and call your eye doctor if you have any concerns or questions about the eye drops you are using!
Prescription vs. Over-the-Counter
Lubricating Eye Drops
Lubricating eye drops contain elements present in your natural tears and are intended for use with dry eyes (which can be caused by eye strain, tiredness, wind, etc.). Their purpose is simple: lubricate the dry eyeball to relieve discomfort.
Antihistamine Eye Drops
These eye drops contain antihistamines to combat symptoms (especially itching) associated with allergies. Relief comes quickly, although the drops may need to be used several times each day to provide continued relief. Prescription antihistamine eye drops can be used, as well, if the allergies are severe enough.
Decongestant Eye Drops
Decongestant eye drops are used to get rid of red eyes. They work by using vasoconstrictors to make blood vessels in the eyeball shrink. However, if used for too long, your eyes can develop a tolerance to the ingredients, and you may end up with worse redness when the effect of the eye drops wears off. Decongestant eye drops can also dry out eyes as a side effect, so they are not appropriate for use as lubricating eye drops.
Rewetting Eye Drops
These eye drops are made specifically for contact lens wearers. They help relieve discomfort, such as dry eyes, associated with wearing contact lenses, and are safe for the contact lens itself. The contact lens does not need to be removed before using these eye drops, unlike with other OTC eye drops that may not be safe for contact lenses.
If you wear contact lenses, always check the eye drops label to make sure that the eye drops are safe for contact lenses. And if any symptoms persist continuously, make an appointment with your eye doctor to see if prescription eye drops are right for you. Your eye doctor can also make recommendations for OTC eye drops.