With so many options for eye drops, your eyes may feel fatigued simply from reading all of the labels. And if you start to feel like you’re needing more relief, you’re probably not alone. In 2019, The American Academy of Ophthalmology reported that the average office worker spends 1,700 hours a year looking at a computer screen. That number doesn’t even account for the time spent looking at your phone. Even with blue light filters, our increased reliance on computer and phone screens can still cause irritation and tiredness in your eyes.
On top of that, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year. And unfortunately, increased pollution and carbon dioxide levels are actually making seasonal allergies worse every season. Besides nasal symptoms, red, itchy eyes can be the most irritating symptoms that come from exposure to allergens.
There are a few things you can do to combat irritation, dryness and redness in your eyes. If you work at a computer, it’s recommended to look at something far away for 20 seconds, every 20 minutes. Reducing screen time before bed goes a long way, too. Lifelong allergy sufferers have their own remedies, including humidifiers. And one thing everyone can do is wear sunglasses, no matter the season. But sometimes, prevention only goes so far. When you need quick relief, eye drops can be an effective solution.
There are three major kinds of eye drops that you can buy without a prescription. Artificial tears lubricate the eyes and are specifically formulated to deal with dry eyes. Allergy drops have antihistamines in their formula and can go a long way in providing relief for the itchiness that often comes with allergy season. Anti-redness drops reduce eye redness, and are designed to be used sparingly to prevent dependence. It’s important to identify the cause of your eye problems to ensure that you choose the right eye drops for you.
We’ve rounded up a few different kinds of eye drops so you can find the one that works best for you. We also included some picks that work for wearers of contacts.
1. Refresh Tears Lubricant Eye Drops
This option from Refresh is a good pick for those looking for relief from dry eyes. It’s designed to moisturize the eyes and provide quick relief from dryness. The drops are formulated to mimic real tears, allowing the eyes to feel naturally moisturized. Plus, it’s designed to be suitable for contact-wearers. Every order consists of two 15 mL (0.5 fl oz) bottles. The active ingredient is Carboxymethylcellulose.
Pros: Value buy comes with two multi-use bottles of artificial tears.
Cons: Some may need to reapply multiple times a day.
2. LUMIFY Redness Reliever Eye Drops 0.25 Fl Oz (7.5mL)
This packaging of this eye drop from Lumify might imply that it’s a beauty product, and in a way it is. The focus of Lumify’s eye drops is as a redness reliever. If you regularly have red eyes, even if they don’t itch, then it may be worth considering these eye drops. Each order comes with one 0.25 fl oz bottle. It’s designed to work in as little as one minute and last eight hours. The active ingredient is brimonidine tartrate.
Pros: FDA-approved solution for red eyes. It helps bring out eyes’ natural radiance by reducing the redness that can come from common irritants like the sun, allergies, dust, etc.
Cons: Expensive. Like with most red-eye relievers, eyes can become dependent, so caution is recommended.
3. Clear Eyes, Redness Relief Eye Drops
If you’re looking for an affordable option for redness relief, then consider these drops from Clear Eyes. One order consists of three bottles which are 0.5 fl oz each. The drops are designed to be able to work for up to 12 hours. The primary function of these drops is reducing redness, but they can also provide relief from mild dryness and itchiness. The two active ingredients are glycerin, which acts as a lubricant, and Naphazoline Hydrochloride, which reduces redness.
Pros: Value buy consists of three small bottles. Formula provides relief for redness as well as mild dryness or irritation.
Cons: Some may find that it is not as lubricating as some other options.
4. Systane Ultra Lubricant Eye Drops
This option from Systane is formulated to combat dryness and provide relief from the symptoms that dry eyes can cause. Systane advertises that it is the #1 most recommended dry eye reliever by doctors. This order consists of two 0.33 fl oz bottles. That makes it a good value, especially considering most of the bottles on this list are smaller. The active ingredients are Polyethylene Glycol and Propylene Glycol, which both serve as lubricants. This formula is the “Ultra” version, making it a good option for people who consistently suffer from dry eyes.
Pros: Good value, consists of two 0.33 fl oz bottles. #1 doctor recommended brand for artificial tears.
Cons: Thick formula is suitable for those who regularly suffer from dry eyes, but this option may be too intense for those who have mild dry eyes.
5. Alaway Antihistamine Eye Drops
If allergy season makes your eyes itch, it’s best to opt for eye drops that provide targeted relief. Artificial tears will likely only prevent temporary relief. That’s why these drops are a good option when allergy season rolls around. The drops’ active ingredient is ketotifen, which is an antihistamine. The order comes with two 10 mL bottles, making it a good value. The instructions are to not exceed two doses a day and to space the dosage between 8-12 hours.
Pros: Provides targeted relief for itchy eyes caused by allergies. Value buy comes with two bottles.
Cons: May cause a burning feeling when first applied, especially for those with dry eyes. May not be ideal for contact wearers.