When it comes to choosing the right artificial tear product one is facing a plethora of products in the eye care aisle at any local pharmacy. The patient has to make an important decision about their daily eye care mostly based on the product information on the box, heavy TV advertising or hopefully his or her eye doctor’s recommendation.
Here are a few pearls of wisdom that should help when you select the artificial tear product that is right for you. These are listed in the order of my preference with the first few being preferred and the last ones are a definite no.
1. GO PRESERVATIVE FREE! My favorites in this category are Preservative Free Refresh Plus and Preservative Free Optive for Sensitive Eyes, Preservative free Genteal and Preservative Free Systane.
2. Benzalkonium chloride (aka BAK) is an extremely irritating additive that is found on most bottled eye drops except for the few that have an alternative to BAK. Purite is a safer alternative to BAK and is converted to water once it reaches the eye surface. Other BAK free tears are Hypotears, Natural tears, Systane, Systane Ultra and Systane Balance (preserved with polyquad), Genteal, Blink tears.
3. AVOID BAK (Benzalkonium chloride) preserved tears and over the counter drops such as
Clear Eyes, CVS and other pharmacy store brand multi action drops promising to take away the red. SAY NO TO VISINE – a bottle full of BAK that will further more irritate the eye surface.
SAY NOT TO Bausch and Lomb Advanced Eye Relived Rejuvenation which has plenty of BAK.
4. AVOID ROTHO artificial tears. They feel like mint in your eye. I am not sure if it is the fact that there is menthol in it’s inactive ingredients that leaves the eye feeling burning or other inactive ingredients but I had to wash out Rotho tears with my favorite Preservative Free Refresh Plus to get rid of the burning.
Once you have selected a drop that works for your eye, get a small sample from your doctor’s office or your local pharmacy to try it out. Occasionally certain individuals may be sensitive to other inactive ingredients of the product and still feel irritated despite tear use. If the product you chose works great for you, I would commit to using it twice a day before you brush your teeth in the morning and night. You can even set a bottle next to your computer if you are a frequent computer user. Carry another bottle/pack in your handbag or keep in your car out of sun’s reach to use when you are travelling and are exposed to sunshine and wind, the common culprits of dry eye condition. Once you incorporate use of artificial tears into your daily routine, it will become a good habit and your eyes will thank you!