When a patient asks me this question, my first response is to find out WHY their eyes are red. If we can conclude that there isn’t something medically wrong with the eye then we can talk about redness reliever drops.
How do these drops work?
There are various over-the-counter eye drops that claim to “get the red out”. Visine, ClearEyes, and Rhoto are a few. They work by constricting conjunctival venules and arterioles which in turn makes the eye look whiter. The problem with these drops are the side effects. Constricting these blood vessels deprive the eye of oxygen and blood flow to the ocular tissues. This is why when you stop using the drop, you get “rebound redness” where the eyes will become more red after the drop has worn off. Also, the effectiveness of the drop can wear off over time causing you to need more drops more frequently.
Are there better options?
Yes! The FDA recently approved a new eye drop called Lumify. This is a very diluted glaucoma drop that we have been prescribing since the late 1990’s. The drop is safe and effective in making your eyes appear whiter. It works by constricting just the superficial venules, not the arterioles thus maintaining oxygen to the ocular surface. Here is a before and after of a patient using Lumify.