Four Different Types of OTC Eye Drops

by Aug 16, 2021

Over the Counter Eye Drops

Many eye drops are available over the counter or without a prescription. These eye drops are easily found in pharmacies, supermarkets, and online.

Since there is not a prescription needed, many people feel overwhelmed by the options available and are unsure of what eye drop is best for their particular need.


Types of OTC Eye Drops

Some types of OTC eye drops are artificial tears or lubricating drops, allergy or antihistamine drops, drops for redness relief, and drops for contact lenses.


Eye Drops for Dry Eyes

Artificial tears or lubricating eye drops are OTC eye drops that help treat dry eyes.

Dry eyes are a common complaint and can result in irritation, burning, and decreased vision.

These eye drops help stabilize the eye’s tear film and provide a smooth surface on the front of the eyes. In many cases, these eye drops are used multiple times a day to alleviate the symptoms of dry eyes.

When looking for eye drops for dry eyes, most OTC drops will state either artificial tear or lubricating drop on the package and will list various different agents as the active ingredient.

An eye doctor can make a specific recommendation on which OTC eye drop will best serve your particular needs based on the results of your comprehensive eye health exam.

Certain OTC eye drops are created without preservatives and others have additional Omega fatty acids to improve the tear film on the eye.

Determining a specific OTC eye drop can improve the results of the dry eye treatment.


Eye Drops for Allergies

Eye allergies are frequently associated with seasonal, environmental allergies which cause itchy, red eyes.

While some allergies are to a specific trigger, many eye allergies are nonspecific and require managing the symptoms when they occur.

There are multiple OTC eye drops that are designed to manage the symptoms of eye allergies.

These eye drops are known as antihistamine drops and can have a variety of active ingredients but will almost always list an antihistamine or mast cell stabilizer as the primary active ingredient.

To effectively manage the eye allergies, you should use the OTC eye drop as directed by the manufacturer – typically once or twice per day.

The regular use of OTC antihistamine allows the eyes to become stable and the itching and redness will subside.

If your eye allergies are still causing symptoms after using an OTC antihistamine eye drop, consult your eye doctor as there are additional treatments available by prescription only.


Over the Counter Drops for Redness

OTC eye drops for relieving red eyes are available with several active ingredients. These OTC eye drops are not created to treat anything but will only fix the redness in the eyes.

Since these eye drops do not treat the underlying condition, they are often not as useful as other OTC eye drops.

To avoid creating or ignoring a severe eye issue, if you have recurrent red eyes, you should consult your eye doctor.


Contact Lenses

Contact lenses provide a special circumstance and require special care with eye drops. There are specific OTC eye drops designed for use with contact lenses.

These OTC drops typically do not have harmful preservatives that can become trapped in the contact.

Contact specific OTC eye drops are often labelled as contact lens safe, preservative free, or re-wetting drops.

If you wear contact lenses, it is important to make sure any OTC eye drops are approved for use with contacts.

If you have concerns, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to find exactly the best option.


Many Options, Many Uses

There are so many OTC eye drops available that in many cases, there will be an OTC eye drop that can help with the treatment of your eye issues.

However, despite the array or OTC eye drops and the various uses for them, it is important to know when to contact your eye doctor and receive professional advice and treatment.

If an issue is not resolving, is progressing, or does not seem to apply to any OTC eye drops, contact your eye doctor for an appointment.



Our optometrist at Eye Contact in Acworth, GA excels in prescription of glasses, contact lenses and the diagnosis of a variety of eye diseases. Call our optometrist at (770) 529-1925 or schedule an eye exam appointment online if you would like to learn more about OTC eye drops or think you may need a prescription for eye drops. Our eye doctor, Dr. Wes Mobley provides the highest quality optometry services and eye exams in Acworth, Georgia and its surrounding areas.

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