Information about eyedrops everyone should know

October 5, 2015

Store shelves are packed with products designed to relieve itchy and dry eyes. But do you really need them?

Information about eyedrops everyone should know

Can you overuse eyedrops?

  • Eyedrops can "get the red out," as an old ad campaign used to claim, but using them too often can backfire and actually worsen irritation and redness.
  • Your eyes are filled with tiny blood vessels called capillaries. Irritants cause these capillaries to dilate, which can turn the whites of your eyes red.
  • Eyedrops that promise to erase redness use decongestants to constrict blood vessels. Narrowing blood-filled capillaries makes them less visible, s the redness fades.
  • Be warned: decongestant drops are weak and their effects wear off quickly.
  • If you use eyedrops too many times in a row, you may experience a rebound effect, leading to a vicious cycle.
  • To avoid the rebound effect, don't use decongestant eyedrops for more than a few days at a time. Some eye doctors discourage patients from using them at all.
  • Instead, find out what's causing your eye irritation and try to eliminate the problem.

How to get relief from dry, itchy eyes

  • Many of the most popular drops lack the critical ingredient that relieves eye symptoms caused by allergies.
  • If you have hay fever, you probably know that sneezing and sniffling is only half the nuisance of seasonal allergies.
  • The more inflamed the eyes become, the more they itch, water and swell.
  • Decongestant eyedrops do nothing to battle histamine.

The answer may lie in antihistamines

  • If you take an antihistamine in pill form, your eyes may feel better eventually. But some studies suggest that over-the-counter, antihistamine-based eyedrops provide faster relief.
  • You should read ingredient lists and look for pheniramine or antazoline, two antihistamines commonly used in allergy eyedrops.
  • But there's a catch: the antihistamines in these products are often paired with a decongestant. Frequently applying decongestants can worsen redness over time.
  • An exception to this rule is ketotifen, which isn't combined with a decongestant.
  • Ketotifen is a triple threat against allergy eyes: it acts as an antihistamine, stabilizes mast cells and reduces inflammation.
  • If you have allergy eyes, ask your doctor or pharmacist if ketotifen is right for you, and worth the expense. It costs twice as much as other antihistamine eyedrops.

Eyedrops promise all kinds of effects, but they might not be right for you. Avoid eyedrops that may create a dependency and, when in doubt, consult a medical professional.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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