Dry Eyes? Find Relief With Our Buyers Guide

Dry Eyes? Find Relief With Our Buyers Guide

The truth is, everybody could benefit from regularly using eye drops, even perfectly healthy individuals. The more lubricated your eyes are, the better you can see, the more protected your ocular surface is, and the better immunity you have from foreign objects and even germs.

Aside from the average person, however, people who have the following conditions or share similar environments could certainly benefit.

Best Lubricating Eye Drops For Dry Eyes

When selecting eye drops let's dive into a few product recommendations. We've done our best to put together a list of the best eye drops on the market for those who suffer from dry eyes or who are just looking for daily lubrication.

Most people have experienced dry eye syndrome at some point in their lives, and it can be incredibly irritating, let’s start by looking at the best eye drops for dry eyes!

Winner: Systane ULTRA Lubricant Eye Drops

Features:

  • ​Package includes 60 vials
  • ​Vials are 0.7-mL
  • ​Lubricant eye drops with extended protection
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    Preservative-free solution
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    Provides fast symptom relief

​​​​​Overview:

Systane’s ULTRA lubricating eye drops are some of the best that you can buy to take care of your dry and irritated eyes, and are the number one optometrist recommended eye drop that is available over the counter.

This large, 60-vial package will last most daily users for a month, and the small 0.7-mL vials are perfect for single doses. Eye drops can be expensive, and losing them is even more expensive, so the most you will ever have to worry about keeping track of are a few small vials at a time, that won’t cost you an arm and a leg to replace.

Systane Ultra Vials Review

In testing Systane’s ULTRA drops out, they perform exceptionally. They provide almost instantaneous relief from even the driest of climates. These drops have a medium viscosity which will leave your eyes feeling hydrated and well-lubricated for hours at a time between applications. They are thick enough to last, but won’t leave you with blurred vision like thicker solutions.

These are also great overnight drops. If you’re used to waking up in the middle of the night with parched eyes, put a couple of drops in each eye before bed, and you’re guaranteed to have a peaceful night of sleep.


Runner-Up: Refresh Plus Lubricant Eye Drops

Features:

  • ​100-vial package
  • ​0.4-mL single-use vials
  • ​Long-lasting relief
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    ​Great for LASIK recovery
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    ​Preservative-free drops

​​​​​Overview: 

These drops are perfect if you’re suffering from moderate dry eye syndrome caused by an arid climate or if you’re in the process of recovering from a recent LASIK eye surgery. LASIK can cause temporary corneal nerve damage, which can leave eyes feeling irritated and dry for weeks at a time. These will provide great hydration while you wait for your eyes to heal.

Refresh Plus Lubricant Eye Drops 100 Vials Review

The 100-vial package is great for those on the run. Just throw a few of the small 0.4-mL vials in your pocket before leaving the house, and you'll have lasting relief all day. This has a light-medium viscosity and is a great option for those who are seeking an eye drop a little thicker than artificial tears but without the high lipid content, of more lubricating options.

If you've been itching and blinking all day, then these eye drops are heaven-sent. When testing these out, you'll find that they provide a wonderful cool rush to the surface of your eye which immediately relieves all irritation. After a few minutes of blinking, you'll have fresh rehydrated eyes, and be ready to continue your day.


Alternative: iSolutions NanoTears MXP Forte

Features:

  • ​64-vial package
  • ​0.6-mL vials
  • ​Preservative-free solution
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    ​Lubricant eye gel drops
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    ​Meant for severely dry eyes

​​​​​Overview:

If you're seeking relief for severe dry eyes, then iSolutions NanaTears has you covered. These maximum strength lubricant eye gel drops will provide soothing, healing hydration to even the worst conditions. Optometrists even recommend these drops to people who have suffered corneal damage from over-exposure to the sun.

This 64-vial package will easily last you for a month, and the 0,6-mL vials are easy to fit in your pocket or travel bag. These drops have a high viscosity are classified as a gel. They have a high lipid-base which means that they will provide lasting relief and protection for up to 12 hours at a time. It is recommended not to operate heavy machinery or drive after application as their thickness can blur vision.

Nano Tears Review

Upon squeezing a couple of drops into each eye, you will be met with a warm and soothing feeling. They coat the entire surface of your eye in a thick gel, and you immediately feel all pain begin to subside. These are especially great for a nighttime application if you're recovering from recent eye surgery or corneal damage.

These are the real deal and should not be used for mild daily irritation. The lubricating gel is meant for extreme healing and is designed to be incredibly hydrating. Daily repetitive use over the long-term (5 - 6 months) however, is not recommended as it can discourage your tear ducts from producing their own tears.


Our Recommendations For The Best Artificial Tears

If you’re not looking for a heavy lubricant, then artificial tears can provide a great solution for quick daily relief. Let’s take a look at a couple of well-reviewed, optometrist recommended eye drops.

Winner: Preferred Plus Artificial Tears

Features:

  • ​Pack of 12 vials
  • ​15-mL vials
  • ​Low viscosity
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    ​Provides temporary relief for mild-moderate dry eyes

​​​​Overview:

These are a great all-around eye drop that everybody should carry around with them or keep on the medicine shelf. Whenever your eyes feel a little itchy or dry from seasonal allergies, or a dry climate, squeeze a few small drops in each eye and you’ll be back to feeling great within minutes.

Preferred Plus' Artificial Tears do an exceptional job of mimicking real tears and have just enough lipids to make them feel soothing and natural. Your eyes are going to thank you for these.

Artificial Tears Lubricant Eye Drops Review

Each package comes with 12 15-mL vials which means you’ll have enough to share with anybody else who might need some relief. And at less than $25 for the whole package, they’re incredibly price-friendly as well.

Upon applying these drops, you'll feel a quick burst of hydration on your parched and irritated eyes. They have a light, aqueous viscosity, which makes them easy to use anytime without the hassle of having to deal with blurred vision. You can expect each application to last for around 2 - 4 hours depending on your environment.


Runner-Up: TheraTears Dry Eye Therapy

Features:

  • ​Package contains one 30-mL vial
  • ​Preservative-free solution
  • ​Electrolyte-infused solution promotes deep healing
  • eye
    ​Restores natural balance in eye
  • eye
    For mild-moderate irritation and dry eyes.

​​​​Overview:

TheraTears Dry Eye Therapy are great artificial tears, and is not only doctor recommended, but was created by doctors as well. These drops provide lasting comfort for mild-moderate irritation and dry eyes and come in a convenient 30-mL bottle which makes them a great product for daily use. Plus they retail for less than $10, which is unbeatable regarding affordability.

They use an advanced electrolyte solution which not only aids in advanced hydration, but also encourages deep healing action, and restores the natural balance of chemicals on your ocular surface. So whether you’re just looking for dry eye relief or you need something a little bit more healing, these are a great option.

Thera Tears Dry Eye Review

TheraTears strongly stands by their commitment to remaining preservative-free, which means you can use these all day long without having to worry about any negative side-effects. They are a light viscosity, with a small lipid percentage, which makes them very easy to apply.

When applying these you will receive cool hydrating relief, and you can feel the healing solution coating your whole eye. The effect lasts for around 4 - 5 hours at a time, so you don't have to worry about constantly reapplying these drops.


Who Can Benefit From Using Eye Drops

If you ever suffered from dry eyes, then you know just how irritating that they can be. The constant burning, itching, and incessant pain can affect your day-to-day activities, driving, and even keep you up at night.

Aside from irritation, constant dry eye syndrome can also result in lasting damage to your eye. When your eye’s surface is dry, it isn’t protected from dust and other small flying debris the same way as it would if it had a protective, moisturized layer over it. Dehydrated eyes are also more prone to picking up germs which can eventually lead to eye infections.

Most often dry eyes are caused by tears evaporating too quickly, which is typically caused by hot, arid, or windy environments. Many also report dry eyes during the winter, as their indoor furnace takes a lot of the moisture out of the air.

Dry Eyes Rubbing

In fact, the American Optometry Association has classified dry eyes as a disease. Dry eye disease causes inflammation and irritation to the to the surface of the eye, can affect visual integrity, and even cause long-term damage. If you suffer from dry eyes, it's in the best interest of both your general ocular health and your eyesight to keep your eyes well-lubricated.

Thankfully, you can purchase most eye drops without a prescription, which makes your dry eyes easily curable. In this buyers guide we will go over the different types of eye drops that you can buy, their associated benefits and relative differences, and even recommend several great products that we’ve spent time testing and researching.

Allergies

If you're like most people, there's a certain time of the year when a special plant grows that wreaks havoc on your body. Perhaps it's an animal, say, for instance, your grandmother's cat or your friend's dog who you love to death, but can't stand to be around. Whatever the cause of your allergy, you can't deny that along with an allergic reaction comes dry, itchy, and red eyes.

An allergic reaction causes the blood stream open up and release histamines along with other substances which are designed to help your body expel the substance to which it's allergic to.

These histamines cause your eyes to be itchy, and you, in turn, respond by rubbing your eyes, and the friction caused by eye-rubbing, in turn, causes your natural tear reserves to evaporate, leaving you with dry eyes.

In this case, eye drops provide a two-fold method of treatment. They can either be applied before an allergic reaction occurs as a protective layer which prevents foreign dust from coming into contact with the eye, or they can be applied afterward to relieve present inflammation.

People Who Live In Dry Climates

If you live by the ocean or in a tropical locale, chances are you don't often get dry eyes. However, if you live in the American Midwest or in any area that's hot and windy with low humidity, then chances are you've suffered from dry eyes more than once.

Dry Climate Conditions

Perhaps you have an indoor furnace or are regularly by a fireside.

Hot, dry climates have a habit of sucking all of the water out of the air, and unfortunately, your eyes are no less vulnerable. Regular application of eye drops can not only prevent your eyes from drying out in the first place, but they can rehydrate as needed. If you live in such a climate, it’s always a good idea to carry a vial of eye drops in your pocket.

Women And Individuals Who Are Over 50

Tear production significantly decreases in those who are over the age of 50. This is due mostly to hormonal changes which cause tear ducts to shrink. Because of the extreme hormone changes, women who are pregnant or who are going through menopause also have a high rate of reported dry eye disease.

Senior woman putting eye drops

Laser Or LASIK Eye Surgery Patients

If you've recently had a Laser or LASIK eye surgery performed on your eyes, then you will most definitely experience a temporary onset of dry eyes. During the procedure, small optic nerves in your cornea can be cut which reduces your corneal sensitivity and causes your body to produce fewer tears.

Dry eyes can negatively affect the outcome of the surgery and can result in longer healing times. This is why it is especially important for patients to use eye drops and keep their eyes well-lubricated.

If You Wear Contacts

Dry eye syndrome is often reported by people who wear contacts on a regular basis. The contacts can give your ocular surface a false sense of protection, which results in your eyes not producing enough tears. Thankfully this can be easily remedied with the application of artificial tears. Keeping your contacts moist also makes them far easier to remove and even helps to extend their life.

Types Of Eye Drops

There are quite a few different types of eye drops, but most fall into three categories; artificial tears, lubricating eye drops, and decongestant eye drops. The terms are sometimes interchanged and are somewhat misnomered, but in general, the main difference is:

  • ​Artificial tears have less viscosity and are more acceptable for regular, daily use.
  • ​Lubricating tears are more viscous and usually reserved for recovery periods or nighttime application.
  • ​Decongestant eye drops are best for getting rid of red eyes and often contain antihistamine for treating allergies.
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    Below we’ll go into some more specific details and discuss some of the benefits of each type.

​​​​Artificial Tears (Aqueous)

Artificial tears are the mainstay that optometrists recommend for most cases of dry eye syndrome. They are meant to temporarily rehydrate the surface of your eye and have a very similar consistency to actual tears. Often artificial tears contain added electrolytes which help to heal the surface of your eye from any sustained damage or irritation.

You can use artificial tears anytime and anywhere without having to worry about them negatively affecting your driving or visual performance, which makes them a great choice for on-the-go students or busy professionals. 

Aqueous Eye Drops

Of course, due to the human tear's complexity, it's very hard to mimic the exact composition of tears, but several companies have done an exceptional job at mimicking the viscosity, chemical composition, and osmolarity of real tears. We have some great recommendations for the best artificial tears discussed further in the article.

Lubricating Eye Drops (Lipid-Based)

If your dry eye problems are more severe and you find that artificial tears aren’t helping as much as they should, then you need to take a look at lubricating eye drops. These drops tend to be a lot thicker than traditional artificial tears and often contain lipids which help to keep the solution on the surface of the eye for a longer amount of time.

Lubricating Eye Drops Review

This makes them great for nighttime application as they can keep your eyes well-lubricated for hours at a time. Unfortunately, the thicker nature of lubricating eye drops means that they can blur your vision. It is generally not recommended for users to drive or operate heavy machinery directly after application.

Decongestant Eye Drops

If you suffer from chronic red-eye or you have suffered from dry or itchy eyes due to allergies, then these are the eye drops you need. They contain vasoconstrictors which take care of red eyes by shrinking the blood vessels, which makes them less visibly inflamed.

Decongestant Eye Drops Review

Decongestant eye drops often have antihistamines in them which makes the best eye drops for allergies. These antihistamines will reduce your body’s allergic reaction to the foreign contaminants, and protect your eyes surface from further contact with allergens.

How To Choose The Best Eye Drops

When deciding what the best eye drops for your particular case are, the first thing you should consider is their use. As we discussed above, different types of eye drops are better for different use cases. However, after you’ve decided on which type you need, there are some more specific details which can be important for consideration.

Preservatives

To increase shelf-life, many eye drop manufacturers add preservatives to their product. While this preservative is harmless in most cases, it can have negative residual effects when overused. If your particular case requires you to apply eye drops more than four times a day, then you should try to look for eye drops which are preservative-free.

Lipids

Natural tears are "biphasic," which means they have both an aqueous and a lipid makeup to them. In order to mimic this, most eye drops will add at least a small amount of lipid content to their product. This helps to stabilize the tear fluid and encourages your body to more accepting of it.

Graph of an Eyes layers

In addition to this, you should check the amount of lipid content. If a product has heavy lipid content than it is known as a "lipid-based eye drop," which has a more lubricating effect than the more aqueous liquid tears.

Viscosity

Viscosity refers to the thickness of a fluid, and in regards to eye drops, is usually directly correlated with lipid content. Patients with a mild case of dry eye may prefer to use a more watery eye drop for quick relief, whereas individuals who have more inflamed or severely dry eyes would benefit from a thicker viscosity of eye drop which will provide long-lasting lubrication.

Conclusion

We sincerely hope that this buyers guide has shown you a way to find relief from your daily irritation and dry eye syndrome. We know how painful it can be to live with and have done our best to provide you with some great products no matter what level of irritation you're currently experiencing.

In conclusion, a good rule of thumb to remember when choosing eye drops is:

  • ​For mild-moderate dry eyes: Use artificial tears
  • ​For allergies: Use a decongestant eye drop
  • ​For moderate dry eyes: Use a medium viscosity lubricant eye drop
  • For severe irritation and extreme dryness: Use a high viscosity gel lubricant eye drop

​​​​The ultimate goal of using eye drops is to provide enough temporary healing and relief to get you through the hot season, relieve allergies, or heal damage. If you find yourself experiencing moderate-severe dry eyes for an extended period of time, then we recommend that you contact your optometrist and schedule an appointment as there could be a deeper issue at hand.

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