Best Lubricant Eye Drops

Updated March 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
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.
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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.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
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.

Shopping guide for best lubricant eye drops

Last Updated March 2019

Exhaustion, computer use, and harsh weather conditions can trigger dry, irritated eyes. This condition is uncomfortable, and it may make it difficult for you to carry out even the most basic tasks. Fortunately, there is a simple solution: lubricating eye drops. But it’s not as simple as walking into your nearest drugstore and picking up the first bottle of eye drops you see.

There are dozens of formulas out there designed to treat a variety of eye conditions, and if you choose the wrong one, you might not notice any improvement in your dry eyes, and you could even make them worse. Save yourself the trouble and choose the right product the first time.

Follow this guide to figure out which lubricating eye drops are the best ones for your dry eyes. And when you’re ready to buy, check out our top recommendations.

As you age, your body produces fewer tears, which can make you more prone to dry eyes.

Key considerations

The first thing you must do is pinpoint which type of eye drops you need and be aware of which ingredients to look for and which to avoid.

Types

There are eye drops designed to treat virtually every eye condition you can think of. If dry eyes are your only issue, you should be able to get by with standard lubricating eye drops, also known as artificial tears. These are designed to mimic the content of real tears and to help supplement your existing tears.

There are also eye drops that claim to work on multiple conditions at the same time, like dry eyes and redness. One of these products may be a better fit if you’re struggling with both conditions. But you should avoid purchasing eye drops for red eyes unless this is a serious issue. It’s possible that these could make your dry-eye problems worse over the long run.

Ingredients

Here are a few key ingredients to look for when choosing lubricant eye drops:

  • Lubricants: Lubricants are at the core of all lubricating eye drops and are what help to moisten and soothe your eyes. Common lubricants include polyethylene glycol, propylene glycol, and sodium carboxymethylcellulose.

  • Electrolytes: Your tears have electrolytes, including sodium and potassium, and some lubricant eye drops do as well. These ingredients can help to heal the surface of your eyes and keep it healthy.

  • Redness-reducing ingredients: Common redness-reducing ingredients include tetrahydrozoline and naphazoline. These work by constricting the eyes’ blood vessels, thereby reducing the appearance of redness, but when used frequently, they can make your eyes drier.

  • Guar gum: Guar gum is a component in some oilier lubricant eye drops. It’s useful if your natural tears are prone to drying up quickly, but it could also make your vision blurry for a short time after applying the drops.

  • Preservatives: Preservatives are designed to lengthen the shelf life of the eye drops, but some people question the safety of these ingredients. If you’re concerned about the effects of adding preservatives to your eyes, you’re better off going with preservative-free drops. People with sensitive eyes are better off staying away from preservatives as well.

Safe, effective, long-lasting

Oasis Tears eye drops are sold in single-dose packages to minimize the risk of contamination. They don’t contain any preservatives, yet they last a surprisingly long time compared to similar lubricant eye drops. Many optometrists recommend this brand to patients after LASIK surgery because it works quickly and delivers excellent results.

Lubricant eye drop features

The above considerations are the most important when selecting the best lubricant eye drops for you, but if you’re having trouble choosing between two different brands, the following factors may help you decide:

Consistency

Some lubricant eye drops are thicker and denser than others. Those drops with a thicker consistency may be less comfortable at first, but they also tend to stay in your eyes longer, so you shouldn’t need to reapply them as often. Consider how severe your dry eye is and let this be your guide. If it’s a frequent problem, you’re better off going with a longer-lasting product even if the consistency is a little thicker than you’ like. But if you only suffer from occasional dry eye, you may be just fine with lubricating eye drops with a thinner and lighter consistency.

You can learn more about the consistency of the eye drops by reading through online customer reviews. If you notice several complaints about the drops feeling heavy or thick on the eyes, you might want to think carefully before purchasing them.

Ease of use

The container that the lubricant eye drops come in will play a role in how easy it is to dispense the liquid. If it’s stiff, you may have trouble controlling how many drops you dispense at one time and end up using too much. This is especially problematic if you’re wearing eye makeup that isn’t waterproof. You can determine how simple it is to dispense the eye drops by checking out customer comments online.

Blurry vision

Some oily lubricating eye drops can make your vision blurry for a short period of time after you apply the drops. This isn’t a serious issue because the blurriness should go away after a few minutes, but it’s an inconvenience that some would prefer to avoid. If you’re one of these people, you may be better off going with a brand that doesn’t cause blurry vision.

Packaging

Most lubricant eye drops are sold in a single container. You dispense the eye drops as needed, and you only have the one bottle to keep track of. But these containers may be more prone to contamination if you touch the end of the bottle to your eye, your finger, or another surface. You can pass any bacteria back to your eyes the next time you use the drops and potentially cause even more problems.

For this reason, you might prefer lubricating eye drops that come packaged in single-use containers. Each time you need to use the drops, you open one vial, and then throw away the vial when you’re done. These containers greatly diminish the risk of contamination.

EXPERT TIP

If your eye drops cause blurred vision for a few minutes after application, wait until this has cleared before driving or operating machinery.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Never use eye drops that have a broken or loose safety seal.


Staff  | BestReviews
EXPERT TIP

Lubricant eye drops that contain preservatives should not be used more than four times per day.


Staff  | BestReviews

Lubricant eye drop prices

Lubricant eye drops range in price from about $5 to $30 per package.

If you’re trying to assess which offers the best value, compare the drops based on the price per ounce. Eye drops sold in single-use packages are more expensive than drops that come in a single bottle.

Be careful not to purchase a container with more eye drops than you think you’ll use, especially if the eye drops are preservative-free. They could expire before you have a chance to use them all.

Lightweight and soothing

The TheraTears eye drops blend lubricants and electrolytes to replicate your natural tears and help your eyes to better lock in moisture. Users appreciate how light and thin these drops are when applied. Because there are no preservatives, these drops are even suitable for people with sensitive eyes.

Tips

  • Opt for preservative-free eye drops if you use them frequently. Preservatives could begin to irritate your eyes after a while.

  • Consult your eye doctor. If over-the-counter lubricating eye drops aren’t working for you, consult with your eye doctor about other possible treatment options.

  • Stop using the drops if you experience itching or swelling. You may be having an allergic reaction to the eye drops.

  • Don’t touch the eyedropper directly. Also don’t allow it to come in contact with your eyeball or any other surface.

Other products we considered

The Bausch + Lomb Soothe XP Dry Eye Drops are a great budget option for those who suffer from frequent dry eye. It soothes and moisturizes dry, gritty eyes while helping to restore the lipid layer that seals in moisture. Users are pleased with how quickly these eye drops work and that they don’t blur the vision after application. The Boiron Optique 1 Homeopathic Eye Drops might be a better fit if you prefer your eye drops in single-use vials to minimize the risk of contamination. You get 30 doses, each dose containing a number of active ingredients designed to moisten and soothe eyes, as well as reduce redness and burning. There are no preservatives, so this is a wise choice if you have sensitive eyes or you use lubricant eye drops frequently.

Tears help to protect the eyes from damage. If your body struggles to produce enough tears on its own, lubricant eye drops can help.

FAQ

Q. Are lubricating eye drops safe to use?

A. Yes, they are safe as long as you follow the instructions on the packaging and avoid contaminating the tip of the eyedropper. If you experience any reactions to the eye drops, stop taking them immediately and consult your doctor.

Q. Is it safe to use lubricant eye drops that have expired?

A. No, you should throw away the expired eye drops. They could harbor bacteria that you could transfer to your eyes if you continue to use the drops.

Q. Will lubricant eye drops help with allergies?

A. The drops may temporarily soothe dry, gritty eyes, but if you know that an allergy is the source of your troubles, you’d be better off purchasing antihistamine eye drops, which are specifically designed for allergies.

The team that worked on this review
  • Aila
    Aila
    Writer
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Devangana
    Devangana
    Web Producer
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Kailey
    Kailey
    Writer
  • Katie
    Katie
    Editorial Director
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer

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