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Is Frequent Use of Over-The-Counter Eye Drops Harmful?

Updated on January 12, 2013

Overuse of just about any personal care product can be harmful, and that includes eye drops. But can the use of eye drops for dry eyes or allergies really be harmful?

The simple answer is yes. A complete answer requires more explanation, however.

Eye drops serve a number of useful and important purposes.

For those with dry eyes, over-the-counter, non-prescription drops can soothe tired, parched eyes, reducing the pain, irritation and redness that comes from computer usage, reading and other causes of eye strain.

Allergy eye drops can help reduce redness, itchiness and other allergy symptoms while making eyes look bright and white.

Eye drops usually carry instruction labels and even warnings about overuse. Many people, however, use over-the-counter drops frequently and without regard to the instructions.

Drops For Dry Eyes and Computer Vision Syndrome

Several different kinds of drops are used by people with dry eyes caused from hereditary conditions or computer usage. The likelihood of damage or side effects depends on what type of drops are being used.

Mildly dry eyes respond well to saline solutions and artificial tears. And here’s the good news: There is almost no chance of injury from overuse or dependence from usage of these drops.

People with moderate or severe dry-eye conditions turn to lubricating drops like the ones recommended on the Clear Your Eyes website, Blink Tears.

Because these drops contain a special ingredient that stays in the eyes to lubricate every time the user blinks, they work better than artificial tears and saline for many people. .

Some worry about the buildup of harmful preservatives in the eye with frequent use of drops, but the preservative used in Blink is different from the one used in some other brands and disappears in the eye. Patients who still aren’t convinced can choose preservative-free individual vials.

Drops For Allergies And Red Eyes Pose Greater Risk

The most common ingredient in allergy eye drops is naphazoline, and the list of possible side effects from this drug is staggering. Used to treat redness caused by allergens and other irritants like smog and pollen, the ingredient has been reported to cause headaches, dizziness, sweating, nervousness and even, in some cases, a slow heartbeat.

Even worse is the rebound effect from the overuse of these drops. While the drug naphazoline can eliminate redness if used as directed, overuse of the drug can cause patients to get worse when they aren’t using it. In other words, people who use allergy eye drops may have to keep using them or risk having more redness and irritation than ever before.

Some think the risk of side effects and the risks from overuse are too great to use allergy eye drops at all. Other simply suggest moderation when using these powerful drops.

Safe Eye Drop Choices

To clear temporary irritants from the eye, a few drops of tap water may be all that’s needed. Saline drops or artificial tears are a great choice too.

Drops designed for dry eyes are the best choice those who have irritation and dryness. These work especially well for those with computer vision syndrome and other computer-related eye issues.

Those with allergies may find that safer dry-eye drops actually work for them too.

Looking closely, it’s easy to see that the right drops used in moderation are safe -- and just as important, effective.

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    • profile image

      Mm 

      6 years ago

      Is Frequent use of blink eyedrop (mild moderate dry eye) harmful? Instill 2 drops every 15 min?

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