You feel like you’ve got a grain of sand in your eye: dry eyes can be quite a burden and therefore always require effective treatment. The basis for this is usually the administration of eye lubricants which stabilise the tear film. Read here to learn how eye drops actually work, what you should look for when making a purchase and which other tips you should consider.
Short and sweet: a description of dry eyes
Dry eyes are often irritated and reddened, and they can also water and burn. The reason for this lies in a dysfunctional tear film, which ruptures because of dry air from the heating, for example, and so is no longer able to lubricate the surface of the eye adequately. This is, of course, unpleasant, but also means that the surface of the eye is no longer supplied with enough oxygen and nutrients, which in turn potentially leads to mild inflammation of the cornea and conjunctiva.
Treatment with eye drops
There are many pharmaceutical forms, but the preparations are most frequently offered in the form of eye drops, less often as ointments or gels for use at night time.
There are different lubricating eye drops. Usually they consist of water, salts and other ingredients pursuant to which they can be classified. There are five different substances or substance classes, like for example:
- Polyvinyl alcohols
- Cellulose derivatives
Polyvinyl alcohols, polyvidone or cellulose derivatives are usually sufficient for mild symptoms. Moderately afflicted eyes can be treated with carbomers. Hyaluronan is extremely versatile: depending on the degree of concentration, it can be used for mild, non-permanent symptoms just as well as for moderate to severe forms of dry eyes.
Alongside preparations with just one active ingredient, nowadays there are eye drops which comprise several active ingredients. These are referred to as combination preparations.
Please clarify with your eye doctor which ingredients are right for you and your eyes. Wearers of contact lenses, in particular, should not shy away from asking their doctor which eye drops are suitable for avoiding irritation of the eyes.
What you should look for when purchasing lubricating eye drops
You should inform the pharmacist advising you of the following so that they can recommend to you the products which are suitable for you:
- How long you have had the symptoms
- Intensity of the symptoms
- Potential intolerances
- Preferred method of administering
- Contact lenses: yes/no
In addition, you can rate the recommended products with regard to their properties and then decide accordingly. You should get answers to the following questions:
- Good tolerability?
- Restriction of visual capability?
- Remains on the surface of the eye for a long time?
- Added preservatives, emulsifiers or phosphates?
- High water-binding capacity?
On the one hand, the capacity to bind water is particularly important in order to supply the eye with moisture for as long as possible, and on the other, to make use of the remaining small amount of lacrimal fluid still available. They play an important role in the health of your eyes: the long dwell time also plays a large role: The longer the substitute tears work on the eye, the less often you will have to take more drops – the preparation goes further.
General information and tips on the topic of eye drops for dry eyes
- Preservative-free eye drops are preferable as they do not additionally irritate the eyes and the surface of the eye. In particular, hay fever sufferers or people who have to make frequent use of eye lubricants should definitely choose a preservative-free preparation.
- You should also make sure that the drops have not had phosphate buffer or emulsifiers added. These can potentially attack the cornea and lead to a decline in vision.
- The thicker (more viscous) an artificial tear products is, the better and more long-lasting the effect is. However, very viscous preparations can impair vision.
- The effectiveness of eye drops on dry eyes is an individual perception. Sometimes it is necessary to try out several products until you find the right one.
- Eye drops should be used punctually and regularly as required. If the symptoms are already very severe, it can be that the eye drops will only have a limited effect. In this case, you should consult a doctor immediately.
- Wearers of soft contact lenses should always use preservative-free products, as the additives accumulate on the contact lens and in so doing, the cornea can be permanently damaged.
- Have your eye doctor check regularly the condition and development of your disease.
Not sure which lubricating eye drops are right for you? You can get an overview of the HYLO® EYE CARE range of products here.