What Are the Best Eye Drops for Dry Eyes?

dry eyes drops

By Dr Leigh Plowman, Optometrist- Updated December 2023

Eye drops, also known as artificial tears, are one of the primary treatments for dry eyes. Your eyes may become dry due to various reasons like dry climate, tiredness, excessive use of contact lenses, and insufficient tear production. Eye drops for dry eyes can help lubricate your eyes by providing moisture.

Types of Eye Drops for Dry Eyes

There are various types of dry eye drops available in the market. Listed below are a few that you can choose from:

Preservative and Preservative-Free Eye Drops

Most eye drops come with preservatives to protect the liquid in the bottle from bacterial growth once the bottle is opened. Common preservatives found in eye drops include:

  • Polyquad
  • Benzalkonium Chloride
  • Ocupure
  • Sodium Perborate
  • Purite

Some of these preservatives can irritate your eyes, especially if you are suffering from a case of severe dry eyes. However, you can use these drops if your usage is not very frequent. But, if you feel you will need these drops more than four times a day, then you can consider using preservative-free drops. You can check the bottle label to determine if the drops have preservatives or not.

Lipid-Based Drops

Lipid-based eye drops are useful in managing evaporative dry eye. Common ingredients found in lipid-based eye drops include:

  • Glycerin
  • Castor oil
  • Mineral oil
  • Hydroxypropyl oil


Electrolytes are important minerals like sodium, potassium, and calcium that can help lubricate your eyes. You can use eye drops that have potassium and sodium, as these electrolytes are also a part of your natural tears. These electrolytes will help improve the surface of your eyes and keep your eyes lubricated.

Ointments and Gels

Sometimes, artificial tears may not help manage your dry eyes. In such situations, you can try over-the-counter ointments and gels. They are thicker than eye drops and hence, will last longer. However, you may struggle to see clearly after using these ointments and gels as the thickness can block your vision. Hence, most doctors will recommend using gels and ointments just before you go to bed so that you don’t have to see anything or use your eyes much.

Eye Drops to Avoid

Not all eye drops that are available over the counter are artificial tears. If you have a dry eye problem, you should be careful about the eye drop you buy. Some eye drops that you must avoid unless prescribed by a doctor, include:

  • Antibiotic Eye Drops: These drops treat eye infections and are typically available only on prescription. Common antibiotic eye drops include Tobramycin and Azithromycin.
  • Allergy Eye Drops: Allergy eye drops are used to treat various eye allergies. Typically, your eyes will feel itchy when exposed to mold, pollen, or dust. While artificial tears can help with allergy symptoms, doctors may prescribe specific allergy eye drops to treat your eye allergy. Common allergy drops include Olopatadine Hydrochloride and Ketotifen Fumarate.

Eye Drops to Relieve Redness: These help to relieve temporary redness in your eyes. The redness could be caused by smoke irritation, allergies, or contact lens use. You may experience rebound redness if you use these drops often, making your eyes look redder than they originally were. That is why most eye doctors will recommend using these drops occasionally and for a short period. Common drops to relieve red eyes include Tetrahydrozoline and Naphazoline.

How to Relieve Dry Eyes if You Wear Contact Lens?

While dry eye drops may help relieve the dryness caused by contact lenses, there are a few things you should keep in mind when using them:

Check If You Can Use the Drops While Using the Lens

While most eye drops may be safe to use with contact lenses, some thicker formulations may need you to wait 15 minutes before putting the lens. Ensure you read the product label before using the drops.

Purchase Rewetting Drops

Rewetting drops are specifically made to keep your eyes comfortable when wearing contact lenses. The product is usually labeled “for contact lenses” and sold close to the lens cleaning solutions.

Speak To Your Doctor

Sometimes, the materials used for the contact lens and the size of the lens can lead to dry eyes. Adjusting these two can help with the symptoms. Speak to your doctor and see if you can change your contact lens to eliminate the buildup of debris and other irritants on your lens.

Best Eye Drops for Dry Eyes

There are different types of eye drops available in the market today. No eye drop works for all types of dry eyes. You may have to try different types of drops before you find the one that suits you best. Listed below are some of the best eye drops for dry eyes:

  • Miebo® Eye Drops

These drops are oil drops for dry eyes and MGD which are preservative free. Learn more about an identical alternative drop called Novatears.

  • Refresh Optive Mega-3

These drops are made of castor oil and flaxseed and help support the oil layer of your tears.

  • Theratears Dry Eye Therapy Drops

These drops help reduce the saltiness of your tears and restore electrolyte balance in your eyes. They are preservative-free and boost the moisture content of the mid-tear film.

These drops are naturally derived from manuka honey. They help reduce the symptoms of Blepharitis, irritation, and inflammation in your eyes.

  • Retaine MGD

These drops help boost the normal oil layer thickness. They are made of positively charged nano-particles that help the drops last long. These preservative-free drops have mild anti-inflammatory effects.

This eye drop is made of natural ingredients like aloe vera and propolis. It is preservative-free and has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effects. 

  • Systane Complete PF

These are also preservative-free drops that help support the oil layer of your tears. 

  • Thealoz Duo Drops

These preservative-free drops contain hyaluronic acid that creates a gel-like cushion for your eyes and prevents dry eyes.

  • Hylo-Forte Eye Drops

These preservative-free drops can last for up to six months. They also contain hyaluronic acid that creates a gel-like cushion in your eyes and boosts moisture.

When Should You See Your Eye Doctor?

If the eye drops and other products you are using don’t help relieve your dry eyes, you must visit your doctor for an eye exam. You should also visit your doctor if you experience any of the symptoms listed below:

  • The drops cause an allergic reaction like breathing problems, itchiness, or swelling. 
  • You are using the drops more than six times a day and still don’t see any relief
  • You have blurry vision
  • Your eyes always feel tired

https://dryeyedirectory.com/best-eye-drops-for-dry-eyes/ can help you determine which eye drops are good for your eyes. Since all eye drops may not suit everyone, it is best to check different eye drops, go through their ingredient list, and then select one.

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