Not all eye drops are created equal, and if you wear contacts, it’s important to know which are safe for your lenses and which are not. Most over-the-counter eye drops are divided into three categories: drops for dry eye, drops for redness, and drops for contact lens re-wetting. Read on to learn about these different kinds of drops and how to use them.
Eye Drops for “Dry Eye”
“Dry Eye” drops are designed to lubricate the eye and help heal its dry surface, but many are fairly thick and can cloud your contact lenses. If you’re experiencing “dry eye,” talk to your eye doctor about prescription drops that are designed for contacts.
“Redness-Reducing” Eye Drops
Eye drops that relieve redness contain ingredients called “vasoconstrictors” which shrink the tiny blood vessels in the clear tissue that coats the white part of the eye. These types of drops are not recommended for contact lens wearers as they can cause deposits to form on the lens, and if used repeatedly can actually make the redness worse.
“Contact Lens” Eye Drops
Contact lens re-wetting drops lubricate the eye and lens making your wearing experience more comfortable. There is no harm in using these kinds of drops frequently. In fact, eye doctors recommend using them often to improve comfort and to clean out debris and proteins. Just be sure the label says “For use with soft contact lenses.”
How to Use Eye Drops
It’s rather simple to use eye drops, but if you have a strong blinking reflex, it may take a few tries (and a wet face) to get it right. Here are the basic steps:
- Tilt your head back so the drops stay in the eye. You should remove your contact lenses if you are using dry eye drops and then reinsert your contact lenses after adding the eye drops to your eyes.
- Keep your eye open
- Hold the bottle over the eye and squeeze, being careful not to touch the eye with the bottle tip
- close your eye for a moment, then blink to distribute
If you have any concerns as to whether or not your eye drops are okay to use with your contacts, talk with an eye care professional.