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Dry Eyes

What Eye Drops Are Best For My Eyes?

Are you suffering from red, irritated and scratchy eyes? Do you feel like you have something stuck in your eyes? These are hallmark symptoms of dry eye syndrome, a condition that occurs when your eyes are not properly lubricated due to insufficient tear production, blocked glands, or unbalanced tear composition.

The symptoms can be so unpleasant that many rush to the nearest pharmacy to find the perfect eye drops that will offer them the relief they need so that they can get back to focusing on other things.

However, seeking the ideal artificial tears to relieve dry eyes can be a daunting process. The eye drops shelf at the drug store offers so many options that it’s hard to know which ones are right for you. What’s more, some can actually make your symptoms worse.

Not all eye drops are created equal—currently, there are 6 main categories of artificial tears available over the counter. Choosing the artificial tears based on your specific needs can help narrow your options.

The 6 Types of Eye Drops / Artificial Tears

Preserved Artificial Tears

Preserved artificial tears contain added preservatives to maintain a very long shelf and keep bacteria at bay once the bottle is opened. Unfortunately, the preservatives can also cause inflammatory dry eye disease, irritation, and an allergic reaction in those who are sensitive. Preserved artificial tears are limited to 4 times a day for this reason. The preservatives may also leave residue on contact lenses, so they are not recommended for use with contact lenses.

Preservative-Free Artificial Tears

Preservative-free artificial tears are great for contact lens wearers as they don’t cause any preservative build-up on the lenses. They are also suitable for those with sensitive eyes since they contain fewer ingredients that can cause irritation.

Preservative-free eye drops typically come in a box of 28 to 30 small vials that fit in a pocket or purse.

To use these drops, just pop the top off and insert the drops into your eyes. Some of these vials can be re-capped to allow you to continue to use the vial for up to 24 hours, but not longer. Refrigerate opened vials between uses to prevent any bacterial growth.

Oil-Based Artificial Tears

Oil-based tears come in preserved and preservative-free versions. These are thicker than traditional eye drops, as they contain an oil-based formulation. The oil helps prevent the watery portion of the tears from evaporating too quickly.

If you suffer from moderate or severe dry eye, oil-based artificial tears may be a great option. However, they’re not recommended for contact lens wearers, as the oils may stick to the surface of the lenses, making it difficult to keep them clean.

Eye Drop Spray or Mist

These sprays are preservative-free and are used to relieve dryness and irritation in both the eyes and eyelids. They’re easy to use, especially for those who struggle to insert drops into their eyes.

To use the spray, just close your eyes and spray onto your closed eyelids. Once you blink, the tears will slide into your eyes.

Don’t use the spray if you’re wearing makeup, lotions, or creams on your eyelids, as it can cause the makeup or lotion to enter your eye.

Artificial Tear Gel

Artificial tear gel adds a thick coating of tears and can be used at any time of the day or night. However, the thicker consistency of the gel drop may blur your vision for several minutes.

The gel is applied in the same way as eye drops. It effectively soothes the eyes and provides extended relief for both moderate to severe dry eye.

Most artificial tear gels contain preservatives, so they can only be used up to 4 times a day, and usually they are not safe for contact lens wearers.

Artificial Tear Ointment

Dry eye ointments are thick and coat the front of your eye for extended coverage. They’re usually used 1 to 2 times daily as needed. It may be best to use them at bedtime, as it will blur your vision.

Get Dry Eye Relief Today!

Artificial tears may be a good way to temporarily relieve eye dryness. However, using the wrong type of eye drops can be worse than not using any drops at all. So be sure to consult your eye doctor before you get eye drops.

Keep in mind that eye drops don’t address the root cause of dry eyes; they just provide temporary relief from the uncomfortable dry eye symptoms. Only an eye doctor can examine your eyes to determine the underlying cause of your symptoms and recommend the best treatment for your unique case of dry eye.

Schedule an appointment with Overland Optical in St. Charles or Overland to learn more about dry eye syndrome and to find out which treatment is best for you.

Q&A

Frequently Asked Questions with Sara Schmitz, O.D.

Q: What is dry eye syndrome?

    • A: Dry eye syndrome is a condition where your eyes either produce low-quality tears or don’t produce enough tears to keep your eyes hydrated. This may be due to certain diseases (like diabetes or other autoimmune diseases), aging, allergies, hormonal changes, smoking, poor air quality, medications, and the environment.

    Q: What are the symptoms of dry eye syndrome?

          • A: Dry eye syndrome can cause a wide range of symptoms including:Itchy eyes
            A feeling that there is grit or debris in the eye
            Blurred vision
            Burning sensation
            Watery eyes
            Dryness
            Irritation
            Sensitivity to light and glare

      Q: Artificial Tears

                • A: Artificial tears are drops used to lubricate dry eyes. These drops help maintain moisture on the surface of your eyes. Artificial tears are available without a prescription from your optometrist. There is no one brand works best for every form of dry eyes. Aside lubricating the surface of your eyes, artificial tears can also promote healing of the eyes. Additionally, some types of drops work to decrease the evaporation of tears from the surface of your eyes. Artificial tears may also contain thickening agents, which keep the solution on the surface of your eyes longer.

      Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In St. Louis, Missouri. Visit Overland Optical Family Eye Care for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

      What You Need To Know About Eye Drops For Dry Eyes

      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: 314-254-2211 or book an appointment online to see one of our Overland eye doctors.

      Want to Learn More? Read on!

      Why Are Blue Eyes More Sensitive To Light?

      Why is My Dry Eye More Severe in the Mornings?

      When Routine Eye Exams Return 

      FOLLOW US:

      8 Ways to Protect Your Eyes at the Office

      Everyone seems to be staring at a screen these days, whether their computer, their smartphone or another digital device. The stress it puts on your eyes can cause a condition called “digital eye strain” (DES) or “computer vision syndrome” (CVS). Symptoms include eye fatigue, dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches, neck and shoulder pain, red eyes, and eye twitching.

      How To Protect Your Eyes While You Work

      Below are a few things you can do to lower your risk or mitigate any discomfort associated with DES.

      1. See your eye doctor for a comprehensive eye exam

      This is one of the most important things you can do to prevent or treat symptoms associated with computer vision syndrome. During your eye doctor’s appointment, make sure to speak with Dr. Sara Schmitz, O.D. about your working habits, including the frequency and length of time you use a computer and other devices at work and at home.

      If you get a chance before you come, measure the distance between your eyes and your computer screen and bring that information to the optometrist, so that you can get your eyes tested for that specific working distance.

      Computer vision syndrome may be exacerbated by an underlying dry eye disease, which can be diagnosed and treated at our eye clinic in Overland.

      Sometimes people who have good visual acuity assume they don’t need any glasses. However, even very mild prescriptions can improve eyestrain and curb fatigue when working at a computer.

      2. Good lighting is key

      Excessively bright light, whether due to outdoor sunshine coming in through the window or harsh interior lighting, is a common cause of eyestrain. When using your computer, your ambient lighting should be about 50% dimmer than what is typically found in most offices.

      You can reduce exterior light by closing drapes, blinds or shades and diminish interior illumination by using fewer or lower intensity bulbs. Computer users often find that turning off overhead fluorescent lights and replacing them with floor lamps is easier on their eyes.

      3. Minimize glare

      Eyestrain can be aggravated by glare from light reflecting off surfaces including your computer screen. Position your computer so that windows are neither directly in front of nor behind the monitor, but rather to the side of it. Consider installing an anti-glare screen on your display. If you wear glasses, get anti-reflective (AR) coating on your lenses to reduce glare by limiting the amount of light that reflects off the front and back surfaces of your lenses (more on that below.)

      4. Upgrade your display

      If you have a CRT (cathode) screen on your monitor, consider replacing it with a flat-panel LED (light-emitting diode) screen that includes an anti-reflective surface. Old-school CRT screens can be a major cause of computer eye strain due to the flickering images.

      For your new flat panel desktop display, choose one with a diagonal screen size of at least 19 inches, and the higher the resolution, the better.

      5. Adjust display settings for added comfort

      Adjusting your computer display settings can help decrease eye strain and fatigue too.

      • Brightness: Adjust your device’s brightness to match the luminance around you. If the white background of this page looks like a light source, then it should be dimmed. However, if it appears dull and gray, it may not provide enough contrast, which can make it hard to read.
      • Text size: Adjust the text size for maximum eye comfort, particularly when reading, editing or writing long documents. Increase the size if you find yourself squinting, but bigger isn’t always better, since overly large text display may force your eyes to track back and forth too quickly for comfort.
      • Color temperature: This refers to the spectrum of visible light emitted by a color display. Blue light is short-wavelength visible light, whereas orange and red are longer wavelength hues. Exposure to blue light helps keep you alert but tends to cause eye fatigue after a while; yellow to red tints are more relaxing and may be better for long-term viewing, especially at night. Many devices allow the user to adjust the color temperature.

      6. Get computer glasses

      Nearly 70% of North Americans experience digital eye strain related to prolonged use of electronic devices. To combat these effects, Overland Optical Family Eye Care recommends digital protection coatings, which act as a shield to cut the glare and filter the blue light emanating from digital screens and artificial light.

      For the greatest eye comfort, ask Dr. Sara Schmitz, O.D. for customized computer glasses, which feature mildly tinted lenses that filter out blue light. These can be made with or without prescription vision correction, for the benefit of those with 20/20 vision or contact lens wearers, though many people with contacts actually prefer to have alternative eyewear to use when their lenses become dry and uncomfortable from extended screen time.

      Overland Optical Family Eye Care can help you choose from a vast array of effective optical lenses and lens coatings to relieve the effects of digital eye strain.

      7. Don’t forget to blink

      When staring at a digital device people tend to blink up to 66% less often, and often the blinks performed during computer work are only partial which aren’t as effective at keeping the eyes moist and fresh feeling. Making a conscious effort to blink more while working or watching can prevent dryness and irritation.

      8. Exercise your eyes

      Another cause of computer eye strain is focusing fatigue. Look away from your computer every 20 minutes and gaze at an object located 20 feet away, for a minimum of 20 seconds. This “20-20-20 rule” is a classic exercise to relax the eyes’ focusing muscles and reduce computer vision syndrome.

       

      The steps above don’t require a tremendous amount of time or money to be effective. Contact Overland Optical Family Eye Care in Overland to make an appointment with Dr. Sara Schmitz, O.D. and learn how the right eye drops, eye exercises, computer glasses, or AR coatings can improve eye comfort, reduce computer vision syndrome and potentially lead to increased productivity and job satisfaction.

      How Smoking Impacts Vision

      Smoking harms nearly every system in your body — including your eyes. 

      Though we are all aware of the health effects associated with smoking, such as lung cancer, heart disease, and bad teeth, few know about the negative impact it can have on our vision. 

      Smoking and Eye Disease 

      Smoking, especially 20 cigarettes or more daily over a long period of time, can adversely impact your vision. Cigarette smoke is made up of compounds that can damage health and have been shown to cause cerebral lesions which affect the area of the brain that processes vision.

      More specifically, tobacco addiction increases the risk of developing vision-robbing diseases such as macular degeneration (AMD), cataracts, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy. Moreover, smoke is an irritant that can cause or exacerbate dry eye syndrome. Below we’ll delve a little further into each of these conditions. 

      Age-Related Macular Degeneration 

      Smokers run a high risk of developing AMD, a condition that severely impairs central vision, making it difficult or impossible to read, drive, recognize faces and colors, and leads to permanent vision loss in those aged 65 or older. Fortunately, the risk can be dramatically diminished by putting an end to tobacco smoking — even if later in life. 

      Cataracts

      Heavy smokers double their risk of developing cataracts, the leading cause of blindness. Cataracts are characterized by clouded, blurred or double vision, photophobia, and reduced night vision. However, cataract surgery is common and replaces the clouded lens with an artificial intraocular lens. 

      Uveitis

      Uveitis, the inflammation of the eye’s central layer, is an ocular disease that can lead to blindness. This condition damages important structures of the eye, notably the iris and retina, and can lead to cataracts, glaucoma and retinal detachment. Smokers have a 2.2 times higher risk of developing uveitis than non-smokers. 

      Diabetic Retinopathy

      Smoking raises one’s risk of developing diabetes by up to 40 percent thereby increasing the risk of retinopathy as well. Diabetes damages the blood vessels in the retina, causing them to leak blood into the eye, which — in severe cases — can deprive the retina of oxygen and result in blindness.

      Dry Eyes

      Dry eye syndrome is a common eye condition characterized by insufficient tears to keep your eye lubricated, or the tears are not composed of the correct balance of water, lipids, and mucous to maintain proper lubrication. Common symptoms include red, itchy, and gritty eyes.

      Heavy smokers, and those exposed to secondhand smoke, not only double their risk of developing dry eye but also exacerbate an existing condition, especially among the contact lens wearers.

      Secondhand Smoke and Eye Disease 

      Secondhand smoke— which includes the smoke that emanates from the end of a cigarette as well as the smoke exhaled— is nearly as harmful to health and vision. Second-hand smoke places others’ eyesight in danger, particularly in young children and infants. Furthermore, studies indicate that women who smoke during pregnancy put the newborn baby at risk of being born with eye disease or visual impairment that could affect his or her ability to learn.

      Stop Smoking to Save Your Vision

      The good news is that giving up smoking can have an immediate effect on your health — and it’s never too late to quit! Once the habit is broken, your body will begin to repair itself to prevent vision loss. It can be challenging to quit, as it requires dedication, support, and advanced planning. Dr. Sara Schmitz, O.D. and the rest of the staff at Overland Optical Family Eye Care in Overland care about your health and will be happy to provide any assistance or resources to help you quit smoking and improve your eye health. Keep in mind that if you smoke, quitting smoking is the most important step you can take to protect your health and vision.

      Ask our doctors at Overland Optical Family Eye Care if you have any questions about any of the information in this article — we are here to help!

       

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