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What You Need To Know About Eye Drops For Dry Eyes

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Many people with dry eye syndrome (DES) find themselves pacing up and down the eye drop aisle at their local pharmacy, trying to decide which eye drops will provide some much-needed relief. But there’s a better way! Your optometrist can guide you to the most appropriate DES treatment for your eyes, whether it be eye drops or another form of treatment.

Below, we take some of the guesswork out of choosing eye drops.

How Do Eye Drops Relieve DES Symptoms? 

Dry eye syndrome is a chronic lack of eye hydration. Common symptoms of DES are red, itchy, watery eyes, grittiness, blurred vision and sensitivity to light.

There are 3 main types of DES:

  • Aqueous deficient DES: when the lacrimal gland doesn't produce enough of the water content in the tears.
  • Evaporative DES: malfunctioning oil glands in the eyelids that cause poor tear film stability.
  • Mixed DES: a combination of both.

Not all eye drops are created equal, and each type targets a different form of DES.

For example, if your dry eye syndrome is due to allergies, your eye doctor might prescribe eye drops containing an antihistamine. Or if you have evaporative DES, your optometrist may recommend an eye drop that contains oil to support a healthy tear film.

Different Types of Eye Drops

Your eye doctor may recommend either over-the-counter lubricating eye drops or prescribe medicated eye drops based on the underlying cause of your DES.

There are 2 umbrella categories for over-the-counter artificial tears: eye drops that contain preservatives, and preservative-free eye drops.

Artificial tears are lubricating eye drops that help your eyes maintain moisture all across the eye’s surface, soothing DES symptoms. These lubricating eye drops are often used to help manage DES symptoms due to aging, weather conditions, allergies, certain medications and health conditions, following eye surgery and digital eye strain.

Many generic brands include preservatives that may cause irritation and toxic reactions on the eye’s surface, especially with repeated exposure. Your eye doctor may recommend preservative-free eye drops so that you can freely use them throughout your day without worrying about irritating or damaging your eyes.

Name-brand eye drops tend to be formulated without preservatives, and contain single-dose vials to maintain sterility and for accurate dosing.

Most importantly, knowing the underlying cause of your dry eye symptoms is crucial to achieving long-lasting relief. All the eye drops in the world won’t cure blocked tear ducts. And eyes that need prescription eye drops won’t find relief from over-the-counter options.

The best way to know how to treat your DES is through a comprehensive eye exam. Speak to Dr. Sara Schmitz, O.D. about determining the cause of your DES, and then recommending the best eye drops or other treatment for your dry eye syndrome. To schedule an eye exam and break the vicious eye drop cycle, call Overland Optical Family Eye Care in Overland or St. Charles today!

At Overland Optical Family Eye Care, we put your family's needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 314-423-3874 or book an appointment online to see one of our Overland eye doctors.

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