12 Best Eye Drops for Dry Eyes

best eye drops for dry eyes
Image: iStock (SelectStock)

Ever have sore or dry eyes? Feel like you need relief?

Here are Dr Leigh Plowman, Optometrist’s top twelve eye drops:

  1. Retaine MGD- great lipid containing drop that also has anti-inflammatory effects
  2. Systane Complete – contains lipids and now available in mutli-dose preservative-free
  3. Hylo-Forte- contains soothing hyaluronic acid which forms a light gel to protect your eyes
  4. Novatears/Evotears – preservative free lipid drops that help Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
  5. Xailin Night – get sore eyes during the night? this is a great preservative free-ointment
  6. Thealoz Duo – this drop is unique because it contains hyaluronic acid and trehalose, which is anti-inflammatory
  7. Oculocin – this drop contains several natural ingredients that reduce eye pain, kill bacteria and have anti-inflammatory effects
  8. Xiidra – helps to reduce the signs and symptoms of dry eyes in as little as six weeks
  9. Cequa – helps to reduce inflammation in the eyes over eight to ten weeks
  10. Eyesuvis – reduces dry eye flare ups
  11. Restasis – reduces dry eye inflammation over the long term

Need a hand finding these drops? Purchase products through Dry Eye Rescue

(If you make a purchase through this link, Dry Eye Directory may receive a small commission. This helps us reach more people with dry eyes.)

Video on Best Eye Drops for Dry Eyes

Dr Joseph Allen, known as Doctor Eye Health on Youtube, shares his best eye drops for dry eyes:

Top Three Eye Drops for Dry Eyes (Doctor Eye Health)

In this article you’ll learn:

  • Five things to avoid in artificial tears
  • What should you look for in eye drops?
  • Most popular drops for dry eyes (including day & night drops)
  • Video- best eye drops for dry eyes by Doctor Eye Health
  • What if you can’t put eye drops in?
  • When should you see an Optometrist/Ophthalmologist

Dry eyes often causes symptoms such as:

  • dry
  • sore
  • gritty
  • itchy
  • stingy
  • blurry
  • watery

If you’ve ever had a piece of dust in your eye, you’ll know how sensitive your eyes can feel.

This sensation can stop you from getting on with your day, concentrating at work, or enjoying time out.

Ever seen the rows of eye drops available at the pharmacy? There’s so many to choose from, like the photo above.
How do you know which ones are the best eye drops for dry eyes?

Artificial tears help your eyes to feel temporary relief from soreness. But what do you stay away from?

Here are five things to avoid in artificial tears:

  • ‘Clear’ or ‘Red Eye’ drops – Drops with Naphazoline or Tetrahydrozoline can make your red eyes worse with regular use. This is because the blood vessels become dependent on the ingredients. If you stop them, your red eyes can actually look worse.
  • Preservatives – Drops with preservatives are designed to make them last longer. They’re designed to kill germs that get inside the bottle. However, preservatives can be toxic to the eye with frequent use. There are several drops in a bottle that don’t have preservatives, or become preservative free when the drop is exposed to air. Look for preservative free where possible.
  • Non-lipid drops – The normal tear film has an oily layer on the top. This is like a roof on a house. It protects everything underneath from evaporation. Over 86% of people with dry eyes have less of the oily layer. Look for eye drops with lipids, such as Perfluorohexyloctane or mineral-oil based drops. These give longer relief from dry eyes.
  • Allergy drops – If you have dry eyes, avoid putting allergy drops in. They may help itchiness. However, they may wash away some of the normal oily layer in your tears, and make dry eyes worse.
  • Conjunctivitis drops – Conjunctivitis drops are made to fight eye infections. However, they don’t help dry eyes or inflammation. Preservatives in these drops can also make dry eyes worse

Tap here for Recommended Products for Dry Eyes

What should you look for in eye drops?

Look for drops that are:

  • Preservative-free
  • Lipid based
  • Hypotonic (less salty)

Natural eye drops can also be very effective. You may have heard of manuka honey drops.
These help reduce inflammation and improve the quality of your natural tears.

Drops with Propolis are also derived from honey and can be effective.

What else should you look for? Sore eyes often come from a buildup that sits along your eyelashes.

Without a microscope, it can look like dust or sleep. Bacteria produce this buildup which falls into the eyes and irritates them.

Look for an eyelid cleanser to clean your eyelids. This may be more important than putting drops into your eyes.
The best eyelid cleansers have hypochlorous acid or tea tree to reduce the buildup of bacteria.

Regularly cleaning your eyelids can help to reduce some of the upstream causes of dry eye.

Here are the most popular drops as voted by people like you:

Daytime drops

Each of these drops below do not contain preservatives.

Need a hand finding these drops? Purchase products through Dry Eye Rescue

(If you make a purchase through this link, Dry Eye Directory may receive a small commission. This helps us reach more people with dry eyes.)

So, when should choose these drops?

Do you have Meibomian Gland Dysfunction? If so, look for drops containing lipids:

  • Retaine MGD
  • Refresh Optive Mega-3
  • Novatears (Evotears)

Do you have any Aqueous Deficiency or Sjogrens Syndrome?

  • Hylo Forte
  • Systane Hydration

Overnight ointment

  • Xailin Night eye ointment
  • Nighttime Eye mask (e.g. Eyeseals 4.0)

Unique drops

  • Thealoz Duo – this drop forms polysaccharide complexes that act as an anti-inflammatory drop. You don’t need a prescription. Thealoz Duo also contains hyalauronic acid.
  • Oculocin – these drops contain Phenols, Aloins & Emodins. These give significant relief for soreness. Oculocin also contains bee and plant extracts that help reduce bacteria and inflammation.

Prescription Eye Drops

  • Xiidra (Lifitegrast) drops- these are anti-inflammatory drops
  • Cequa (cyclosporin) drops- also anti-inflammatory drops
  • Eyesuvis (loteprednol) drops- short term anti-inflammatory drops to reduce dry eye flare ups
  • Restasis (cyclosporin) drops- anti-inflammatory drops

Learn more about Xiidra vs Restasis vs Cequa vs Ikervis.

What if you can’t put drops in?

Tired of drops? Or too busy to remember to put them in?
Dry eye treatments are available that don’t rely on you putting drops in.

Tap on this link to learn more about Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) for Dry Eye.

When should you see an Optometrist or Ophthalmologist?

If you’re using eye drops regularly for more than two days, see your Optometrist or Ophthalmologist.

You can get faster relief from dry, sore eyes. This also helps you avoid other causes of sore eyes, such as serious infections or inflammation in your eyes.

Your Optometrist or Ophthalmologist can also prescribe prescription eye drops, if needed.

These include topical cortisone, cyclosporin, lifitegrast or other anti-inflammatory drops.

Eye drops are more than just saline. Your eyes and eyesight is important.

Your Optometrist or Ophthalmologist can help you to look after them.

Find a Dry Eye Doctor near you

I hope this information helps you to find relief for dry eyes.

-Dr Leigh Plowman, Optometrist