Best Eye Drops for Red Eyes

Updated September 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

22 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
389 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best eye drops for red eyes

Last Updated September 2019

Coughing, sneezing, sniffling, nasal congestion, and red eyes are all symptomatic of the body’s reaction to allergens. You may be allergic to dogs, cats, perfumes, dust mites, or seasonal pollen. It makes no matter: you are miserable.

Allergic reactions happen in the eyes with the body reacts to an intrusive substance and the immune system kicks in, releasing histamine or other substances. This reaction causes red, itching, burning, watery eyes. Persons prone to eye allergies may also have nasal allergies.

Red, watery eyes are a common problem, but that doesn’t make it any easier to cope with. Fortunately for the millions of people who suffer this problem, OTC (over-the-counter) eye drops are available to relieve the redness and soothe the eyes. With the right eye drops in your medicine cabinet, you can reach for them with confidence, knowing that your eyes will not only feel better, they’ll also appear younger, brighter, whiter, and naturally radiant.

Read on to learn more about what causes red eyes and effective products for symptomatic relief. When you are ready to purchase, check out our recommended choices.

OTC eye drops may interact with other medications or exacerbate other health problems. If in doubt, it is always a good idea to double-check with your physician before adding a new OTC medication to your arsenal.

Key considerations

Chronic dry eye syndrome

If your scratchy, red eyes are due to chronic dry eye syndrome unrelated to infection or injury, several things could be to blame, including:

  • Aging

  • Prescription medication reaction

  • Prolonged use of a laptop, computer or another electronic device

  • Gender

  • Contact lenses

  • Changes in hormones

  • Antihistamines

  • Low humidity

  • Exposure to wind and cold

  • Overexposure to the sun

  • Reading

  • Inflammation
     

Artificial tears lubricate the surface of the eye. For people experiencing chronic dry eye syndrome, artificial tears are the first line of defense. They offer immediate symptomatic relief of itching but do little to relieve redness.

Types of allergies

Two types of allergies cause eyes to become itchy, irritated, and red: perennial allergies that happen year-round and seasonal allergies. The major cause of perennial allergies include pet dander, dust and dust mites, air pollution, feathers in bedding, smoke, perfume, cosmetics, and certain medications.

Seasonal allergies, also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, happen during specific times of the year when weeds, grasses, flowers, trees, and mold release spores and pollen. Red, burning, or itchy eyes caused by seasonal allergies can be effectively treated by OTC eye drops with decongestants and antihistamines.

Other causes of red eyes

Your eye issue may be due to a bacterial infection requiring prescription antibacterial eye drops. Inflammation of the eye surface is the primary factor causing dry, red eyes: inflammation activates from stress, bacteria, air pollutants, or a surface irritation to the eye. Chronic red, itching eyes can be a significant source of anxiety, affecting your day-to-day quality of life. Persons suffering from recurring swollen, tender, or painful eyes should visit an eye doctor for diagnosis and guidance.

Cautions and concerns

Ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist if it is safe to use OTC eye drops if you take other medications or have other medical conditions. This is especially true for people who suffer heart disease, high blood pressure, glaucoma, a thyroid disorder, or an eye infection or eye injury.

Fast-acting and effective

Tired, red, and irritated eyes find immediate and long lasting symptomatic relief with Lumify Redness Reliever Eye Drops. From reputable manufacturer Bausch + Lomb, these drops are a hit with many satisfied users.

Features

Symptom relief: When shopping for eye care products to relieve redness, read the advertisement and label to determine that the product actually is formulated to remove redness. Some eye drops are for lubrication only. (Eye drops formulated for dry eyes help support and restore your eye’s lipid layer by replenishing moisture to your eyes.) Some eye drops are formulated to get the redness out but are not designed to alleviate dryness. And finally, some eye drops do both.

Duration: Read the directions carefully. Some eye drops are to be cautiously used for limited periods, while others can be used for an unlimited duration of time. In fact, drops formulated for red eyes may stop working or make the problem worse with prolonged use. The manufacturer should explain this thoroughly in the packaging. If you have any doubts about how long you should use a particular product in your eyes, consult your physician.

Bottle size: OTC eye-drops for redness relief are sold in 0.25 ml, 0.05 ml, 0.75 ml, and 0.80 ml plastic squeeze bottles or glass containers. Eye drops packaged in 0.80 ml or larger bottles usually include an eye dropper.

FDA approval: When purchasing OTC eye drops to lubricate or soothe red, irritated eyes, look for a product with FDA approval. Reputable manufacturers package their product with a complete list of ingredients and clear usage instructions. An eye dropper is often included for ease of application. Avoid products from manufacturers who deliberately provide eye droppers that are too large, resulting in wasted money and wasted medication.

EXPERT TIP

Store OTC eye drops at room temperature to keep them fresh and optimally effective.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Throw away eye drops after their expiration date, even if the package is unopened.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Keep eye drops in a safe place out of the reach of children and pets.


Staff  | BestReviews

Eye drops for red eyes: prices

The cost of eye drops covers a broad spectrum.

OTC eye drops in the lower price range cost $2 to $4 for a 0.25 ml container.

For the same size in the medium price range, expect to pay $5 to $8.

Name-brand eye drops in the high price range cost upward of $18 for a 0.25 ml size. Several brands offer additional savings on twin or three-pack packaging.

Maximum redness relief

If seasonal allergies, environmental pollutants, or eye strain leave your eyes red, watery, and irritated, Rohto Cool Maximum Redness Relief Cooling Eye Drops can soothe and comfort them for up to eight hours. The formula acts quickly, moistening eyes in the blink of an eye so you can get back to living your life.

Tips

  • If your eyes appear swollen, red, and itchy and your eyelids itch as well, especially at the base of your lashes, you may be dealing with a condition called ocular pruritus. Left untreated, this common condition can lead to unfavorable outcomes, such as scarring. See an eye doctor if you think you may have ocular pruritus.

  • To avoid contacting a bacterial eye infection, wash your hands frequently. Eyes can become infected from contact with an unclean substance or object, such as dirty hands, cosmetics, an improperly cleaned contact lens, face lotion, or the tip of an unsterile eye-dropper.

  • When using eye drops, avoid touching the eye drop container tip to your eye or any other surface. Contact lens users should remove their lenses before applying eye drops.

  • Certain ingredients should be avoided in eye drops, such as dyes and bleaches. Vasoconstrictors may be present in some OTC eye drops, as well. You should avoid eye drops that use a vasoconstrictor unless under the advice of a physician.

  • As with any medication, use OTC eye drops as suggested by your healthcare provider. Read the packaging instructions, and follow the directions closely.

  • Discard the product if the solution changes color.

  • Do not use the solution if it is cloudy or shows evidence of contamination.

  • Securely fasten the cap of the eye drop container after use.

Other products we considered

Zaditor Antihistamine Eye Drops, offered in a twin-pack of 0.5 ml bottles, soothes tired eyes and relieves redness. These tiny bottles are ideal for dropping in a purse or pocket. Potential buyers should note that this drug contains an antihistamine that may work for 12 hours.

The twin pack of Systane Balance Lubricant Eye Drops includes two 0.10 ml bottles. Not only does the product provide immediate relief to dry, irritated eyes, it's also an excellent value for the money. Potential buyers should note that these drops are for wetting the eyes and not for combating the effects of allergies.

Before using OTC eye drops to relieve red eyes, tell your healthcare provider if you are allergic to medication, food, or any other substance that triggers a reaction.

FAQ

Q. If I experience red eyes, do I need to visit an eye doctor?

A. In many cases, eye redness is indicative of irritation or eye strain; it’s an annoying cosmetic and comfort concern that does not require professional intervention. However, red eye can be a sign of a serious problem if accompanied by blurred vision or intense eye pain. Stop using OTC eye drops if eye pain or irritation worsens or if vision changes occur. If ever in doubt, it’s wise to visit your physician for a professional opinion.

Q. If I have eye redness, irritation, or an eye infection, how do I avoid infecting family and friends?

A. As with any medication, follow package instructions, and avoid sharing your eye drops with others. Wash your hands frequently, and try to avoid rubbing your eyes.

Q. Is it safe to use OTC eye drops on family pets with irritated eyes?

A. Some OTC eye drops are safe for animal use, but it is wise to ask your veterinarian’s advice first.

The team that worked on this review
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Marlene
    Marlene
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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