Dry eyes are a very uncomfortable condition and most people seek over the counter eye lubricants and eye drops to help manage dry eyes. If one’s dry eye is chronic it would be advisable to always lubricate eyes even when they feel fine.
Selecting and using over the counter drugs to treat dry eyes
Artificial tears, gels, gel inserts and ointments are some if the types of eye lubricants found over the counter. Consulting with a doctor is advisable before starting on any over the counter treatment. Artificial teats are very useful in treating mild dry eye.
These are factors that should be considered before selecting an OTC drug
- Preservative versus non preservative drugs: Preservatives are normally added to increase a drugs shelf life. Eye drops that contain preservatives can be used up to 4 times a day. However using these drops for longer than that can cause eye irritation. Non preservative eye drops are usually packaged in many single use eye drops. After using a vial, you throw it away. Non preservative eye drops are safer for use if one needs them more than four times a day.
- Drops versus ointments: Eye lubricants that come in ointment form coat the eyes and provide lasting relief. However as ointments are very thick, they tend to cloud ones vision, hence one is advised to use them just before getting into bed. Eye drops on the other hand can be used at any time without interfering with one’s vision.
- Drops that reduce redness: These lubricants should not be used for extended periods as solutions to dealing with red eyes as prolonged use leads to eye irritation.
Washing eyelids to control inflammation
Blepharitis and other conditions that lead to inflammation of the eyelids and block essential oils from reaching the eyes may need frequent and gentle eye cleaning to help the eyes.
To wash the eyelids:
- Apply a warm wash cloth to the eyes: Use a clean cloth and wet it with warm water. Place the cloth over the eyes and hold it in place for 5 minutes. Rewet the wash cloth when it becomes cold. One should gently rub the washcloth over the eyes including the eyelids to loosen any debris that may be stuck.
- Use a mild soap for the eyelids: Baby shampoo or any other mild soap can be used. Place the soap on the fingertips and gently massage the closed eyes near the eyelids and base of eyelashes to remove any debris. Rinse thoroughly and completely.
Doctors may recommend this cleaning routine daily even after dry eye has been relieved. Stopping this procedure may cause the symptoms to return.
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