Ever spent any time walking up and down the eye care aisle at the pharmacy? Safe to say, the selection of eye drops to treat dry eyes can be overwhelming. The fact is, not all dry eye drops are created equal. The chemical makeup of each brand varies greatly from one to the other, with effectiveness also running the gamut, depending on the cause of your dry eye.
According to the National Eye Institute, they estimate that dry eye symptoms affects millions of adults in the United States. Symptoms often vary, including but not limited to:
- A scratchy sensation
- Feeling as if something is in the eye
- Heavy Eyelids
- Blurred Vision
To help guide you through the maze of dry eye drops, we’ve created this list of the top five over-the-counter brands to keep an “eye” out for.
Different Types of Over the Counter Eye Drops
1. GenTeal Gel for Severe Dry Eyes
Active Ingredients: Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose 0.3% (various types of lubricants)
GenTeal Gel is formulated for people who suffer from mild, moderate or severe dry eye caused by the poor quality of their natural tear film. Substituting for this film, GenTeal helps prevent moisture from leaving the cornea.
Use: for dry eye caused by poor quality of the eye's natural tear film
2. Systane Ultra Lubricant Eye Drops
Active Ingredients: Polyethylene Glycol 400 0.4%, Propylene Glycol 0.3% (various types of lubricants)
Systane provides relief from burning and irritation caused from dry eyes due to poor tear quality. By lengthening the eye’s tear film breakup time, Systane strengthens the ability of the tear film to protect the ocular surface in between blinks.
Use: for dry eye caused by poor tear quality
3. Refresh Tears Lubricant Eye Drops
Active Ingredients: Polyvinyl alcohol 1.4%, povidone 0.6%, Carboxymethylcellulose Sodium 0.5% (various types of lubricants)
Get relief from dryness related to burning eyes and irritation that’s caused by a lack of tear production. Refresh Tears is an extra strength dry eye drop that works by moistening the eye, mimicking natural tears. The tetrahydrozoline hydrochloride in Refresh produces local vasoconstriction to reduce redness.
Use: for dry eye caused by a lack of tear production
4. Visine All Day Comfort Dry Eye Relief
Active Ingredients: Polyethylene glycol 400 1%, Hypromellose 0.36%, Glycerin 0.2% (various types of lubricants)
Visine is an all-around product that provides soothing moisture for the comfort of your eyes all day or all night long. 1-2 drops help with temporary relief in burning, irritation, and discomfort from dry eyes.
Use: for dry eyes caused by exposure to the wind or sun
5. Soothe Lubricant Eye Drops Maximum Hydration
Active Ingredients: Povidone 2% (type of lubricant)
Soothe is designed to prevent further eye irritation from dry eye symptoms by providing long-lasting moisture and comfort. Their lubricant ingredient helps to give lasting hydration with each drop.
Use: for dry eyes to strengthen tear film and reduce inflammation
Refractive Surgery for Dry Eyes
You’ve possibly considered refractive surgery such as LASIK, but it’s important to note that LASIK can exacerbate dry eyes due to the corneal reshaping that’s required with the procedure*. A premium alternative to LASIK is, the Visian ICL (Implantable Collamer Lens), a biocompatible, advanced lens that’s placed inside the eye for vision correction and does not induce dry eye syndrome. Best of all, there’s no removal of corneal tissue with Visian ICL. The Visian lens also provides UV protection and can be removed if needed. Learn about the full benefits here.
*Shoja, MR. Besharati, MR. Dry eye after LASIK for myopia: Incidence and risk factors. European Journal of Ophthalmology. 2007; 17(1): pp. 1-6.
[Content Updated June 2019]