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If you wear contacts, you’re not alone — it’s estimated that 75% of American adults wear some kind of vision correction, and around 45 million of them wear contact lenses. There are a variety of reasons why people prefer contacts over glasses; aside from appearance concerns, contact lens subscription services also allow you to freely and regularly adjust your prescription, and they can provide additional freedom if you’re frequently playing sports or working out.
However, one drawback to wearing contacts is that they can leave your eyes feeling dry and irritated. You know the feeling — you’re on your seventh hour of screen time and your contact lenses designed for moisture are starting to stiffen over your eyes and dry out like the Sahara. We’ve all been there, it’s distracting and can lead to itching or even fiddling with the contact itself if you’re not careful. This can lead to tearing, folds or your contact falling out, which defeats the whole purpose. You can avoid all that thanks to the best eye drops for contacts. The drop varieties we’ve chosen below are specifically designed to provide relief for contacts-wearers, with formulas created to mimic the natural tear-making process and give you sustained hydration.
Benefits of Eye Drops for Contact Lenses
The main reason to use eye drops is to replace tears that you might not otherwise produce with contacts on. Eyes can sometimes become irritated, especially when you are wearing contacts that can collect debris or other irritants.
Cornea and dry eye specialist Dr. Yuna Rapoport, a board-certified ophthalmologist of ManhattanEyeNYC.com, says, “The cornea gets its nutrients from the oxygen in front of it, and contacts don’t allow it to breathe. So the better lubricated a cornea is, the better.” Rapoport recommends using a lubricating drop before putting on your contacts and before you remove them.
What to Look for in Eye Drops for Contact Lenses
Since you’ll be putting the best eye drops for contacts in your eye, you want to make sure they’re safe, in addition to effective. When choosing the right eye drops for you, look for ingredients like castor oil, glycerin, hydroxypropyl-guar and mineral oil, says Dr. Madathupalayam Madhankumar of iCliniq. Avoid preservatives (like benzalkonium chloride). These can induce harm and injury to the conjunctival and corneal cells in the eye when used for a long time, he adds. “It can be a real issue as frequent contact-safe eye drops can be essential for your comprehensive eye care,” explains Madhankumar.
Rapoport also recommends preservative-free drops, which are packed in individual vials. Likewise, Rapoport suggests looking for eye drops with carboxymethylcellulose, which is thicker and will help the drop last longer in your eye. She likes brands like Retaine, Refresh and Systane.
“The best over-the-counter drops for contact lens wearers are Refresh and Blink,” says Dr. Molly King, a Colorado-based optometrist who owns SimpleEye.net, which helps people who suffer from dry eye. Preservative-free drops from these brands are good and safe to use, and can be applied to the eye while wearing contacts. King adds that preserved over-the-counter drops are also okay to use, but she warns, “they should be instilled on the ‘naked eye’ (with no contacts in) to avoid deposits and debris on the contact lenses, unless it is a daily disposable contact lens, like the one you throw away at the end of the day.”
Things to Consider When Using Eye Drops for Contact Lenses
King cautions about frequency. “Over-the-counter bottled drops [with preservatives] can be used up to four times per day,” she says. “If you are finding that you need the drops more often than that, then you may want to talk to your eye doctor about a prescription eye drop, like Restasis, Xiidra, or Cequa.” Preservative-free solutions, on the other hand, can be used more often.
Always read the products’ directions, and consult with your eye doctor if you have concerns and questions on use. But with that, may we present to you the best eye drops for contact lenses.
1. Amo Blink Contacts Lubricating Eye Drops
Recommended by optometrists, Blink proves to be a top performer. Consumers comment that this product lubricates without irritation. Many of the reviews also mentioned that the product was recommended to them by their doctors.
If you have issues with eye drops feeling unnatural and uncomfortable, these eye drops utilize electrolytes to mimic your natural tears, as well as an element called hyaluronate for an additional moisturizing agent. The relief feels as natural as blinking, and works on soft and RPG lenses alike. The formula also contains the gentle disappearing preservative OcuPure, which helps the drops instantly melt into your eyes and provide fast relief.
2. Refresh Contacts Contact Lens Comfort Drops
Also highly recommended by doctors, Refresh Contacts Contact Lens Comfort Drops are less expensive than the Blink variety, but still effective eye drops for contact lenses. With a 4.8-star rating after over 5,000 reviews on Amazon, shoppers appreciated this product for its efficacy — and price.
These drops by Refresh target the pain and irritation caused by contact lenses, creating a liquid cushion that acts as a buffer between your lens and your eyeball. These drops are doctor-recommended for their therapeutic abilities and come in a bottle ready to apply multiple doses at any moment. The bottle itself is designed for quick and efficient usage, and the relief lasts throughout the day so you won’t need to apply over and over again.
3. TheraTears Eye Drops for Dry Eyes
BEST FOR QUICK RELIEF
Immediate relief is a prime selling point for this product, and customers who have tried it echo the accolade.
Designed to not only give you that initial rush of relief but to keep your eyes hydrated and comfortable for an extended period, TheraTears uses a formula containing hypotonic and electrolytes to soothe irritated eyes. Preservative-free, this bottle is larger in size (30 ml) than most and is designed to be kept at home or in the office so that you always have a ready supply on hand, should the need arise.
4. Opti-Free Puremoist Rewetting Drops
BEST RATED ON AMAZON
With a near-perfect 4.8-star rating on Amazon and over 8,000 reviews, these eye drops for contact lenses easily made our list.
These eye drops don’t just replenish your eyes’ moisture and give you a mid-day refresh, they also remove particles that cause irritation, which can easily get caught on contact lenses. They help prevent deposit build-up that can lead to and/or exacerbate contact lens irritation caused by dryness or something else. They’re great for use with soft contact lenses as well as silicone hydrogel models.
5. Clear Eyes Eye Drops
BEST ON A BUDGET
With nearly 3,000 reviews and a 4.5-star rating, these eye drops for contact lenses didn’t disappoint shoppers. Most liked its consistency and ability to keep eyes feeling comfortable without breaking the bank.
These drops from Clear Eyes, when worn daily, can increase the lift of your contact lenses and make them more comfortable to wear throughout the day. Their soothing, sterile buffer solution provides relief to irritated eyes for up to 12 hours with one dose and also removes irritating particulate matter that can cause discomfort. Not only does this solution provide relief from irritants in the moment but prevents them from reoccurring and causing further disruption throughout your day.