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Artificial tears - which to choose?

Updated: Mar 6, 2019

It can be overwhelming trying to figure out which eye drop to use for dry eyes, especially after looking at the designated section in the grocery store housing an overabundance of brands to choose from. Let’s break it down.


First, what do artificial tears treat?

Artificial tears lubricate the front surface of the eye and replace normal tear volume in those with dry eyes.


What is dry eye?

Dry eye is essentially inflammation on the surface of your eyes that can cause eye irritation, redness, and tearing. This occurs from tears either evaporating too quickly or the eye not producing enough tears. However, many factors can contribute to and exacerbate dry eye (contact lens wear, AC, computer use, medication, allergies, dehydration, etc.)


Why are there so many different types?

Artificial tears come in a range of thickness, and different brands utilize different active ingredients and lubricants. Thinner drops have a shorter retention time on the eye and can be used up to 4 times throughout the day. Thicker and more viscous drops stay on the eye longer but can cause blurred vision. These drops are generally recommended for nighttime use or for extended relief.

If more frequent use is needed, or if you wear contact lenses, preservative-free drops are advised. Otherwise, the preservatives in the drops can irritate the eyes.


Recommended brands are: Systane Ultra, Refresh, & Blink preservative-free formulations.


Another drop with great success is Retaine MGD (preservative-free), which stays on the eye longer via its electrostatic properties. This drop isn’t as common in stores but can be found on Amazon.


Here are some unique features of recommended brands:


Blink Tears have hyaluronic acid, an excellent lubricant that allows for better tear stability & retention time.


Systane Balance & Refresh Optive Mega-3 drops restore the tear lipid layer, ideal in eyes with tears that evaporate too quickly.


Refresh Optive Advanced works on all layers of the tear film.


For longer relief and nighttime use, Systane, Refresh, & Blink gel formulations are a great choice.

It is worth noting that artificial tears do not cure dry eye; rather they help manage its symptoms. If you have any questions about which drops serve your dry eye, we are here to help!

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