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  • Writer's pictureMaria Cholakova

Artificial Tears and How the Eye Drops Help Your Eyes

Updated: Mar 16

Dry eye syndrome is a common condition in which the eyes do not produce enough tears or the tears evaporate too quickly, leading to discomfort, irritation, and even visual disturbances. The unpleasant condition can affect people of all ages. Fortunately, there are various treatments available to alleviate dry eyes, and one of the most common and effective ones is artificial tears.

Table of Content:

1. What are Artificial Tears?

2. How do Artificial Tears Work?

3. What are the Benefits of Artificial Tears?

4. What are the Types of Artificial Tears?

4.1. Lubricating Artificial Tears

4.2. Preservative-Free Artificial Tears

4.3. Artificial Tears for Severe Dry Eye

4.4. Gel and Ointment Artificial Tears

5. How to Use Artificial Tears?

What are Artificial Tears?

Artificial tears are a type of eye drops that mimic the natural tears produced by the lacrimal glands in the eyes. They contain a combination of water, salt, and other ingredients such as electrolytes, lubricants, and preservatives to hydrate and soothe the eyes.

The eye drops come in different formulations, including solutions, gels, and ointments, each with varying thickness, viscosity, and duration of action.

How do Artificial Tears Work?

Artificial tears work by supplementing insufficient natural tears, improving the quality and quantity of the tear film, and relieving the symptoms of dry eyes. They also provide relief if you experience discomfort while wearing or after taking out your contact lenses.

These types of eye drops:

  • Provide lubrication

  • Create a protective layer on the surface of the eyes

  • Reduce friction when blinking

  • Prevent damage to the cornea and conjunctiva

  • Flush away debris, allergens, and irritants that may accumulate on the eye's surface

  • Decrease inflammation and infection risk

Feel free to use artificial tears as often as needed, depending on the severity and frequency of your dry eye symptoms. They are safe for most people and do not require a prescription. Although it is advisable to consult an eye doctor before using them, especially if you have a history of eye allergies, infections, or other eye conditions.

Woman putting eye drops artificial tears

What are the Benefits of Artificial Tears?

Artificial tears offer several benefits for people with dry eyes, including the relief of symptoms such as itching, burning, stinging, redness, and blurred vision. They also grant protection of the eye surface from environmental factors such as wind, smoke, and dry air can exacerbate the condition.

Furthermore, these eye drops reduce dry eye glare and halos and aid in the prevention of infections by washing away bacteria and other pathogens. If you wear contacts, there is an additional benefit. That is the enhancement of contact lens comfort by improving the tear film's quality and reducing friction between the lens and the eye.

What are the Types of Artificial Tears?

There are several types of artificial tears available. Choosing the right one depends on the severity and type of dry eye symptoms.

Lubricating artificial tears

These are the most common type of artificial tears and contain a blend of water, salt, and lubricants such as glycerin, propylene glycol, or polyethylene glycol. They are ideal for mild to moderate dry eye symptoms and are available in different viscosity levels, from thin drops to thicker gels.

Preservative-free artificial tears

These are artificial tears that do not contain any preservatives to irritate the eyes, especially with frequent use. This type of eye drop is perfect for people with sensitive eyes or those who need to use eye drops frequently.

Artificial tears for severe dry eye

Artificial tears may contain a higher concentration of lubricants or other ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid or carboxymethylcellulose. They are known to provide longer-lasting relief for severe dry eye symptoms and are usually prescribed by an ophthalmologist after an eye examination.

Gel and ointment artificial tears

These are artificial tears that have a thicker consistency than drops. Gels and ointments stay in the eye longer, providing prolonged lubrication and protection. This is an excellent option for those who suffer from severe dry eye or those who have difficulty using drops.

How to Use Artificial Tears?

Using artificial tears is relatively straightforward. But it is essential to follow the instructions on the label or the recommendations of your eye doctor or pharmacist and use the correct amount of eye drops. Too many drops could overload your eyes, making them too watery, while too few drops may not provide sufficient relief.

Dropping artificial tears in eyes

Here are some general guidelines for using artificial tears:

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water

  2. Remove the cap of the eye drop bottle or tube

  3. Tilt your head back slightly while looking up

  4. Use one hand to pull down your lower eyelid to create a small pouch

  5. Use the other hand to squeeze the prescribed amount of eye drops into the pouch

  6. Release your lower eyelid and close your eyes gently for a few seconds to allow the eye drops to spread evenly across the surface of your eyes

  7. Wipe away any excess drops around your eyes with a clean tissue or cloth

  8. Repeat the process for the other eye

When dropping artificial tears, avoid touching the tip of the eye drop bottle or tube to prevent contamination, and store them at room temperature in a dry, clean place.

Artificial tears are a safe and effective treatment for dry eyes, offering relief from discomfort and irritation. They come in different formulations and are available without a prescription. However, just like any medical product, it is best to consult your eye doctor if you have persistent or severe dry eye symptoms or if you experience any side effects from using artificial tears.

Learn more about your eye health and how to take care of your eyes in the Ophthalmology24 blog.


All medical facts and statements are checked by Atanas Bogoev M.D.


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