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Risk Of Overusing Eye Drops

If you find yourself constantly reaching for eye drops, it’s time to start looking into the bigger issue: Why do you need them so often? While they may provide a quick and satisfying fix for irritated or itchy eyes, they don’t focus on what might be causing the irritation to begin with.

Two signs that you’re overusing eye drops: you often exceed the daily recommended dose and/or you view eye drops as a cure rather than a temporary treatment.

Risks of Overusing Eye Drops

When overusing eye drops you can run the risk of:

  • Washing away your natural tears. Artificial tears feel great as they lubricate your eyes and help with insufficient tear production. But overuse can literally wash away the natural moisturizers and your natural tears that protect your eyes.
  • Rebounding. As the effects of the eye drops subside or upon discontinuation of the drops, the original eye symptoms may return stronger than before. This is known as eye rebounding. Eye drops clamp down on the blood vessels in the eye to stop itchiness, which means your sclera isn’t getting the oxygen and nutrients it needs. When you stop using eye drops, or their effects wear off, your eyes may work in overdrive to deliver oxygen to those vessels.
  • Masking a more serious problem. Addressing the symptoms of red, itchy eyes rather than the cause could be more serious than you think.

Conditions That Eye Drops Could Be Masking

Red, itchy eyes are a symptom of several conditions, including:

  • Blepharitis – Red and inflamed eyelids, caused by a fungal or bacterial infection, gland dysfunction, parasites, or dry eye, all of which require treatment beyond over-the-counter eye drops.
  • Eye trauma – Scratching or rubbing your eye can cause blood vessels to break, making the eye itchy and red. Some more serious traumas will require prescription eye drops or surgery.
  • Eye strain – Focusing on work all day and night can cause irritated, tired, and strained eyes.
  • Foreign objects – An eyelash, dust, or something worse could be in your eye. If you have long-term issues with itchy or dry eyes, make sure a foreign body isn’t the culprit.
  • Allergies – Allergies to the environment or pets can cause dry, itchy eyes.
  • Pink eye – A bacterial or viral eye infection, also called conjunctivitis, can cause burning, swelling, and itchiness.
  • Dry eye syndrome – Irritation, redness and itchiness are common symptoms of dry eye syndrome. In severe cases, DES can damage the cornea.

Regardless of why you often use eye drops, the only way to get to the root cause of your symptoms is a thorough eye exam. Don’t cover up the symptoms with eye drops.

If you’re suffering from irritated, dry eyes that haven’t resolved on their own, contact Overland Optical Family Eye Care in Overland. We can help you find the long-lasting relief you’ve been looking for.

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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Frequently Asked Questions with Sara Schmitz, O.D.

Q: What are symptoms of dry eye syndrome ?

  • A: Irritation, redness and itchiness are common symptoms of dry eye syndrome. In severe cases, DES can damage the cornea.

Q: Are OTC eye drops safe ?

  • A: Eye drops may provide relief. But don’t overuse them. Overuse can cause more harm than good. Find out what happens when you overuse those relieving eye drops.

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 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: 314-423-3874 or book an appointment online to see one of our Overland eye doctors.

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