A Patient’s Guide to Artificial Tears

By: Jessica Greenwell, Lead Technician

Some data suggests that 48% of adults are affected by dry eye disease, so one of the most common drops we recommend for our patients are artificial tears. For patients with mild to moderate cases, artificial tears can be very effective when used as recommended. Here, I’ll share tips for shopping for and using artificial tears.

Imagine you’re at a visit with one of our ophthalmologists and you’ve been just been diagnosed with dry eye disease. Your doctor will likely recommend that you pick up some artificial tears and use them four times a day in each eye. You may be given a sample and some coupons before you leave. Since artificial tears are available over-the-counter, your doctor won’t write a prescription for these drops. If you use the sample and it helps with your symptoms, that’s great! You can probably find the same drop at most pharmacies. Brand name drops can be expensive so be sure to look online for coupons. Sometimes the coupon needs to be printed, other times you can display the coupon on a smart phone and simply have it scanned at checkout. Check your junk mail, too! I often find coupons for a few different brands in my junk mail.

Another option that can save you money is purchasing generic or store-brand drops. For many patients, the important thing is to look for the active ingredient, not necessarily the brand or manufacturer. Check the package for the active ingredient in the drops you like using and look for the same ingredient in a generic/store-brand drop. If you are unsure, ask a pharmacy technician to point you in the right direction, they are there to help you!

Finally, and most importantly, take your drops as directed every day whether you experience symptoms or not. Many, many patients come to their follow-up visits and tell me they are still suffering from itching, irritation, blurry vision, and other dry eye symptoms. When I ask if their drops are helping, they tell me they only use them once or twice a day or some days not at all. Artificial tears help your eyes by keeping your corneas moist and lubricated. They also help balance your body’s own tear film and prevent it from evaporating too quickly. Dry eye disease means ongoing symptoms for many patients and using your drops every day will help keep your eyes comfortable and happy!