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With so many options for eye drops, your eyes may feel fatigued from simply reading all of the labels. And if you start to feel like you’re needing more relief, you’re probably not alone. 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 blockage, red, itchy eyes can be the most irritating symptom that comes 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 at least 20 feet 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. 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. The 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.
3. 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. 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.
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.
4. Ocusoft Retaine MGD
For a preservative-free option to dealing with moderate to severe dry eyes, try Ocusoft Retaine MGD. Using a proprietary cationic oil emulsion technology, Ocusoft is designed to deliver moisturizing and lubricating ingredients to the eye through electrostatic attraction between positively charged droplets and the negatively charged ocular surface, effectively lowering the salt concentration of tears. This not only helps to reduce dryness, but it also provides a protective barrier over the eyes.
Pros: Ocusoft comes packaged in 30 individually sterilized and sealed containers that make it easy to keep the lubricant in your pocket, desk, backpack or carry while traveling.
Cons: Ocusoft has a big price tag and may sting when first applied.
5. Similasan Complete Eye Relief Eye Drops
For a more natural alternative to traditional eye drops, we recommend the Similasan Complete Eye Relief Eye Drops. The homeopathic eye drops use natural active ingredients like Euphrasia or Eyebright, a wildflower that can help stimulate the body’s natural defenses. Free from harsh chemicals, Similasan helps eyes naturally fight unwanted symptoms instead of masking dryness, redness and itchiness with temporary fixes.
Pros: Similasan is made without vasoconstrictors, a chemical that can cause symptoms to rebound and return even worse than before.
Cons: Similasan Complete Eye doesn’t treat watering or eye issues caused by seasonal allergies, although the brand does offer other eye drops for these symptoms.
6. TheraTears Omega 3 Supplement for Eye Nutrition
Stop dry eyes before they start with TheraTears Omega 3 Supplement for Eye Nutrition. Using organic flax seed oil, pharmaceutical-grade fish oil, and vitamin E, TheraTears are designed to enhance tear production, improving eye lubrication and reducing the occurrences of dry eyes. The soft gel capsules are free from preservatives, PCB, mercury and lignans.
Pros: TheraTears are a capsule supplement and provide an alternative to eye drops for those who find eye drops difficult to administer.
Cons: TheraTears are designed to help create healthy eyes, not treat dryness and redness once it has set in.
7. LUMIFY Redness Reliever Eye Drops 0.25 Fl Oz (7.5mL)
If you’re trying to relieve the look of red eyes, these drops from Lumify are a good option. The active ingredient is brimonidine, which is specifically added to reduce the look of red eyes and brighten your eyes. The drops serve more of a cosmetic purpose, so if your eyes are red but not itchy or dry, then these are the eye drops to get. The drops come in a 0.25 oz bottle, and a single drop is designed to work quickly and last all day.
Pros: Quickly relieves the look of red eyes. Best cosmetic improvement for anyone with red eyes who doesn’t have allergies.
Cons: Eyes can potentially become dependent.
8. Visine, Multi-Symptom Relief Eye Drops Totality
As the name suggests, Visine Totality is designed as an all-purpose solution for a variety of symptoms. It can relieve dry or watery eyes, as well as itchiness, dryness and redness. The lubricating formula is designed to provide relief for up to 10 hours, but you can use it up to four times a day if needed. The bottle is a portable 0.5 oz size.
Pros: Relieves a variety of symptoms including redness, dryness and itchy eyes.
Cons: May not be ideal for those with sensitive eyes.
9. Alaway Antihistamine Eye Drops
If allergies are the source of your irritation, these antihistamine drops from Alaway are a good option. The active ingredient is Ketotifen, which provides quick relief for itchy eyes that can come when allergy season rolls around. It’s designed to be fast-acting, and it can provide relief for up to 12 hours. That means that even though the 0.34 fl oz bottle is small, it can last you a long time. It’s intended to be used no more than twice per day.
Pros: Good option for allergy relief. A little goes a long way. Provides relief for up to 12 hours.
Cons: More expensive than some other options.
10. Rohto Maximum Redness Relief
If you’re looking for an option specifically for red-eye relief, Rohto’s cooling drops provide quick soothing results while reducing the look of redness. Rohto’s active ingredients include both Naphazoline hydrochloride and polysorbate, providing both redness relief and lubrication. The fast-acting formula is designed to last up to eight hours.
Pros: Soothes eyes while reducing redness. Fast-acting and long-lasting.
Cons: Container can be difficult to open.