There are many things a patient can do to alleviate eye discomfort and irritation, staring by using the best eye drops for dry eyes. Choose drops that contain the active ingredients propylene glycol and or carboxymethylcellulose sodium 0.5%, advises clinical optometrist Dr. Arian Fartash, with whom Bustle spoke for this article. Avoid drops that contain preservatives (she calls them "junk additives") by choosing preservative-free formulas, and steer clear of drops that advertise they “get the red out,” as those are vasoconstrictors that shrink the red blood vessels, which can further bother dry eyes.
Use your over-the-counter eye drops two to four times a day at consistent times, otherwise they really won’t help, which is why the doctor tells patients to use them at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bedtime.
Making some lifestyle changes may help with your dry eyes too, says Dr. Fartash, such as:
- Taking a break from digital devices. (“Our blink rate decreases significantly when staring at screens for a long period of time and we are not refreshing our tears like normal," explains Dr. Fartash.)
- Switching your contact lenses to a brand with more water and oxygen availability, like most daily disposable contact lenses (the ones you throw out everyday), because the higher the water content, the better for dry eyes.
- Adjusting the direction of air conditioners and heaters so that the air isn't blowing directly into your face.
- Wearing an eye mask to bed if you’re a person that sleeps with your eyes slightly open.
- Maintaining good eye hygiene with a special cleanser (you'll find a great doctor-approved one below).
- Avoiding/quitting smoking.
- Incorporating omegas 3 and 6 into your diet with foods like wild caught salmon, chia seeds, and flax seeds.
Note that if you’re not getting relief from OTC products, speak with an eye care professional about prescription drops. "No two eyes are the same," Dr. Fartash explains. "When the underlying reason for dry eye is found, it's easier to put the person on a good regimen more tailored for them.”
With those tips in mind, scroll on to shop a few doctor-approved products for managing dry eyes.
1. The Expert’s Top Pick
Dr. Fartash suggests Systane Ultra Lubricant Eye Drops for patients with dry eyes to help with burning, itching, and general irritation. The formula is made with the active ingredients polyethylene glycol and propylene glycol, and like most preservative-free eye drops, they come in single-use vials, rather than one big multi-use bottle. In this box, you'll get 25 vials for less than $15.
2. Runner Up
Refresh Plus, which is also preservative-free and packaged in single-use vials, is Dr. Fartash's second pick. These drops contain the active ingredient carboxymethylcellulose sodium to provide gentle, long-lasting moisture to dry, sensitive eyes, including for people who have had LASIK surgery. Here, you'll get 50-single use bottles for just over $15.
3. Another Doctor-Recommended Treatment For Dry Eyes
Maintaining good eye hygiene is just as important as using eye drops, says Dr. Fartash. She has her patients with dry eyes use the We Love Eyes cleansing set, which includes two products that contain tea tree oil. "Their cleansing kit (with both an oil and a foam) is what I have all my dry eye patients use on the daily to help keep eyes clean, inflammation down, and lids disease free," Dr. Fartash says.
Dr. Arian Fartash, owner of GlamBaby.