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What Eye Drops Are Best For My Eyes?

Are you suffering from red, irritated and scratchy eyes? Do you feel like you have something stuck in your eyes? These are hallmark symptoms of dry eye syndrome, a condition that occurs when your eyes are not properly lubricated due to insufficient tear production, blocked glands, or unbalanced tear composition.

The symptoms can be so unpleasant that many rush to the nearest pharmacy to find the perfect eye drops that will offer them the relief they need so that they can get back to focusing on other things.

However, seeking the ideal artificial tears to relieve dry eyes can be a daunting process. The eye drops shelf at the drug store offers so many options that it’s hard to know which ones are right for you. What’s more, some can actually make your symptoms worse.

Not all eye drops are created equal—currently, there are 6 main categories of artificial tears available over the counter. Choosing the artificial tears based on your specific needs can help narrow your options.

The 6 Types of Eye Drops / Artificial Tears

Preserved Artificial Tears

Preserved artificial tears contain added preservatives to maintain a very long shelf and keep bacteria at bay once the bottle is opened. Unfortunately, it also causes inflammatory dry eye disease, meibomian gland dysfunction and an allergic reaction in those who are sensitive, leading to redness, irritation and inflammation. While these drops may offer temporary relief, long term they can do more harm than good. Moreover, the preservatives may leave residue on contact lenses.

Preservative-Free Artificial Tears

Preservative-free artificial tears are great for contact lens wearers as they don’t cause any preservative build-up on the lenses. They are also suitable for those with sensitive eyes since they contain fewer ingredients that can cause irritation.

Preservative-free eye drops typically come in a box of 28 to 30 small vials that fit in a pocket or purse.

To use these drops, just pop the top off and insert the drops into your eyes. Some of these vials can be re-capped to allow you to continue to use the vial for up to 24 hours, but not longer. Refrigerate opened vials between uses to prevent any bacterial growth.

Oil-Based Artificial Tears

Oil-based tears come in preserved and preservative-free versions. These are thicker than traditional eye drops, as they contain an oil-based formulation. The oil helps prevent the watery portion of the tears from evaporating too quickly.

If you suffer from moderate or severe dry eye, oil-based artificial tears may be a great option. However, they’re not recommended for contact lens wearers, as the oils may stick to the surface of the lenses, making it difficult to keep them clean.

Eye Drop Spray or Mist

These sprays are preservative-free and are used to relieve dryness and irritation in both the eyes and eyelids. They’re easy to use, especially for those who struggle to insert drops into their eyes.

To use the spray, just close your eyes and spray onto your closed eyelids. Once you blink, the tears will slide into your eyes.

Don’t use the spray if you’re wearing makeup, lotions, or creams on your eyelids, as it can cause the makeup or lotion to enter your eye.

Artificial Tear Gel

Artificial tear gel adds a thick coating of tears and can be used at any time of the day or night. However, the thicker consistency of the gel drop may blur your vision for several minutes.

The gel is applied in the same way as eye drops. It effectively soothes the eyes and provides extended relief for both moderate to severe dry eye.

Most artificial tear gels contain preservatives, so they can only be used up to 4 times a day, and usually they are not safe for contact lens wearers.

Artificial Tear Ointment

Dry eye ointments are thick and coat the front of your eye. They’re usually used 1 to 2 times daily as needed. It may be best to use them at bedtime, as it will blur your vision.

Get Dry Eye Relief Today!

Artificial tears may be a good way to temporarily relieve eye dryness. However, using the wrong type of eye drops can be worse than not using any drops at all. So be sure to consult your eye doctor before you get eye drops.

Keep in mind that eye drops don’t address the root cause of dry eyes; they just provide temporary respite from the uncomfortable dry eye symptoms. Only an eye doctor can examine your eyes to determine the underlying cause of your symptoms and recommend the best treatment for your unique case of dry eye.

Schedule an appointment with New Era Eyecare in Clifton to learn more about dry eye syndrome and to find out which treatment is best for you.

Q&A

Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Craig Spelke

Q: What is dry eye syndrome?

    • A: Dry eye syndrome is a condition where your eyes either produce low-quality tears or don’t produce enough tears to keep your eyes hydrated. This may be due to certain diseases (like diabetes or other autoimmune diseases), aging, allergies, hormonal changes, smoking, poor air quality, medications and the environment.

    Q: What are the symptoms of dry eye syndrome?

          • A: Dry eye syndrome can cause a wide range of symptoms including:Itchy eyes
            A feeling that there is grit or debris in the eye
            Blurred vision
            Burning sensation
            Dryness
            Irritation
            Sensitivity to light and glare

      Q: Artificial Tears

                • A: Artificial tears are drops used to lubricate dry eyes. These drops help maintain moisture on the surface of your eyes. Artificial tears are available without a prescription from your optometrist. There is no one brand works best for every form of dry eyes. Aside lubricating the surface of your eyes, artificial tears can also promote healing of the eyes. Additionally, some types of drops work to decrease the evaporation of tears from the surface of your eyes. Artificial tears may also contain thickening agents, which keep the solution on the surface of your eyes longer.

      Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Alexandria, Virginia. Visit New Era Eyecare for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

      How’s Your Hand-Eye Coordination?

      People with poor hand-eye coordination are sometimes perceived as clumsy or inattentive. The truth is that poor hand-eye coordination stems from a deficit in visual-motor coordination. Fortunately, your eye doctor will assess your coordination during a comprehensive eye exam.

      What Is Hand-Eye Coordination?

      Hand-eye coordination is a person’s ability to smoothly control their hand movements based on the visual cues they receive from the brain. When the eyes and brain are communicating effectively, a person’s hand-eye coordination can be drastically improved. Many activities, from driving a car to catching a ball, depend on our visual system working at its best.

      Here’s how it works: Our eyes capture what they see around them, and send this visual information to the brain. The brain processes and interprets these images, and then communicates with our hands and arms, informing them of the object’s position, speed, size and many other parameters.

      This process is very complex and must work seamlessly for our hands to react quickly to visual stimuli. Having good hand-eye coordination can be the difference between turning the steering wheel away from an encroaching car to avoid an accident, or being hit by that car.

      We all utilize hand-eye coordination multiple times throughout the day when doing things like:

      • Writing
      • Driving
      • Typing
      • Playing a video game
      • Exercising or playing sports
      • Inserting a credit card into a chip reader

      When the visual and motor systems don’t communicate efficiently, a person may experience symptoms like clumsiness at the very least, and professional, academic or developmental challenges at the worst. For example, poor hand-eye coordination can interfere with typing skills, attention and handwriting.

      Even a person with perfect visual acuity (eyesight) and great motor skills can experience poor hand-eye coordination. That’s because the problem usually isn’t with the individual systems, but rather how the brain, eyes and the body interact with each other.

      Eye Exams Can Detect Problems With Visual Skills

      Assessing hand-eye coordination is crucial for both adults and children, as this skill greatly impacts most parts of life.

      At your comprehensive eye exam, your optometrist will check several visual skills, including hand-eye coordination. If a problem with hand-eye coordination or any other visual skill is found, our doctors will discuss the next steps in treating and correcting the problem.

      To schedule an eye exam for you or your child, call New Era Eyecare in Clifton today!

      Q&A

      #1: What other visual skills are evaluated during an eye exam?

      During an eye exam, your optometrist will test for visual acuity, convergence, eye tracking, eye teaming, color vision, and focusing. Testing these skills is especially important for school-aged children, since learning and academic performance heavily depend on healthy vision.

      #2: How often do you need a comprehensive eye exam?

      Adults should have their eyes examined by an optometrist every year, or as frequently as their optometrist recommends. Children should have their eyes first checked at 6-12 months of age and then as frequently as advised by the optometrist. As a rule, most children should be seen when they are 2 or 3 years old, before first grade and then every year thereafter.

      If you have any concerns about your child’s vision or are yourself due for an eye exam, contact us today. We want what’s best for your vision and life!

      Childhood Myopia Is in Crisis Mode on a Global Scale

      When it comes to the prevalence of myopia (nearsightedness), the statistics are staggering. By 2050, nearly half of the world’s population—about 5 billion people—will be myopic. Below are a few useful tips to help you prevent your child from being part of that statistic.

      What Is Myopia?

      Myopia occurs when the eye elongates, causing light rays to focus in front of the light-sensitive retina rather than directly on it, while looking at something far away. So, people with nearsightedness perceive distant objects as blurred while close-up objects can remain clear.

      Myopia tends to develop during childhood, when the eyeballs rapidly grow (along with the rest of the body), mainly between the ages of 8-18. It can worsen slowly or quickly, but it is not simply an inconvenience. People with progressive myopia are more likely to develop serious eye diseases like cataracts, retinal detachment, macular degeneration and glaucoma later in life—conditions which may lead to permanent loss of vision and even blindness.

      How To Know Whether Your Child Is Myopic

      Below are some telltale signs to watch for:

      • Blurred distance vision – Objects in the distance are blurred; kids may complain that they can’t see the board
      • Headaches – When myopia isn’t corrected, it can cause eye strain and headaches.
      • Head tilting or squinting – If your child squints or tilts his or her head while watching TV, for example, it may be a symptom of myopia.
      • Looking at objects too closely – If you notice your child moving closer to the TV or squinting as they try to see the writing on the board, it may indicate myopia.

      What Parents Can Do to Slow Their Child’s Myopia Progression

      • Encourage your child to go outdoors for at least 90 minutes a day, preferably in the sunshine. Studies show that playing outdoors reduces the risk of developing myopia and slows its progression.
      • Limit the amount of time your child spends staring at a screen, reading and doing close work such as homework.
      • When your child uses a digital screen, make sure that it isn’t too close to the face.
      • Teach the 20-20-20 rule: During screen time, take a break every 20 minutes to look at an object across the room or out the window about 20 feet away, for at least 20 seconds.
      Frequently Asked Questions with Dr. Craig Spelke

      Q: How is myopia diagnosed?

      • A: Your child’s eye doctor will perform a thorough pediatric eye exam to diagnose myopia, which often includes a visual acuity test, where the eye doctor will use an eye chart made up of letters of varied sizes. If the test results indicate myopia, then the optometrist may shine a light into their eyes and evaluate the reflection off the retina to determine the degree of refractive error for their prescription.

      Q: Can myopia lead to blindness?

      • A: High myopia may increase your child’s risk of developing more serious eye conditions later in life, such as cataracts, retinal detachment and glaucoma. Left untreated, high myopia complications can sometimes lead to blindness—which is why routine eye exams are critical.

      Quality Frames For Prescription Eyeglasses & Computer Glasses In Alexandria, Virginia. Visit New Era Eyecare for an eye exam and eyeglasses that match your style.

      Why Are Dilated Eye Exams So Important?

      Having your eyes dilated during an eye exam may seem like a nuisance. But when you consider the benefits of a dilated eye exam, the temporary blurred vision and sensitivity to light that typically follow are definitely worth it.  

      What Are Dilated Eye Exams? 

      At some point during a comprehensive eye exam, your optometrist will shine a bright light into your eyes to examine the back of your eye, called the retina. The problem is that bright light causes the size of the pupil’s opening to shrink, which makes it hard for the optometrist to see a large portion of the retina. 

      That’s why eye doctors apply special eye drops in each eye to keep the pupils open. A dilated pupil allows for a much more accurate assessment of your eye’s structures, including the focusing lens, blood vessels and tissues at the back of the eye called the retina, as well as the optic nerve and macula. 

      Dilating the eyes makes it easier for your optometrist to detect the following conditions and diseases: 

      • Cataracts
      • Glaucoma 
      • Diabetic retinopathy
      • Macular degeneration
      • Retinal tumor 
      • Retinal detachment or retinal tears
      • Eye floaters

      It’s important to note that many of these conditions can develop without noticeable symptoms, until they cause vision loss at which point treatment may be more challenging, making dilated eye exams all the more crucial. 

      The Dilation Process

      First, your eye doctor will apply eye drops to each eye to trigger dilation of the pupil. Your eyes should be fully dilated about 10-20 minutes later. 

      Your eyes will remain dilated for 4-6 hours, and during this time you may be sensitive to light. That’s because the larger pupil allows more light than usual to enter the eye. Many patients find it more comfortable to wear sunglasses until their eyes return to normal. 

      Reading and using a computer may be difficult with dilated eyes, and your vision may be blurred. Some patients report feeling a tightening sensation in their eyelids, or headaches. 

      Dilated eye exams are a crucial part of keeping your eyes healthy. To schedule your comprehensive eye exam, call New Era Eyecare in Clifton today!

      Q&A

      #1: At what age should one have a dilated eye exam? 

      You should have your dilated eye exam no matter your age. Most eye doctors will dilate a new patient at their first exam regardless of age to get a baseline of their retinal health.

      #2: Will I be able to return to work after a dilated eye exam? 

      Everyone reacts differently, so it’s hard to tell. If your job requires you to focus on small print or detail, it may be challenging. Typing and writing may also be difficult with dilated pupils. To be on the safe side, book your appointment at the end of your work day, clear your schedule after your eye exam and only plan to do activities which aren’t visually demanding.