woman putting eye drops.

There are lots of different kinds of eye drops, most of which can be used by contact lens wearers. However, many drops should never be placed on your eye while you are wearing your lenses. How can you tell which ones?

If you want to play it totally safe, take your drops into your doctor’s office and ask if they’re alright to use during contact lens wear. If that’s not practical, read on for more information on different kinds of drops and how to use them.

Prescription versus Over-the-Counter Eye Drops:

If your doctor prescribed eye drops, it’s important that you use them according to the instructions provided. In almost all cases, unless you are clearly instructed otherwise, you should remove your contact lenses prior to instilling drops. Then, wait about 15 minutes before putting your contact lenses back on your eyes.

If you are using over-the-counter eye drops, and have not gotten specific instructions from your doctor on how safe they are to use with contact lenses, here are some general guidelines:

  1. Know what you’re buying.

Most over-the-counter eye drops fall into one of four categories: drops for redness, drops for allergies, drops for dry eyes, and drops for contact lens re-wetting.

  1. Steer clear of “Get the Red Out” drops.

Red-eye reducers contain ingredients called “vasoconstrictors. ” They work by shrinking blood vessels in the clear tissue that coats the white part of the eye. A lot of people love the whiter eyes they get when they use these products, but they are not recommended for contact lens wearers. These products can cause deposits to form on your lens, and, over time, they can actually make your eyes redder.

  1. Follow the 15-minute rule with allergy drops.

Most eye drops for allergies first hit the market as prescription medications. These complex pharmaceuticals can be very helpful for contact lens wearers who suffer from allergies. However, the ingredients in these drops are not designed to interact with a contact lens. For this reason, and so you get maximum penetration in your ocular tissues, instill allergy drops prior to lens insertion and wait 15 minutes before putting your lenses back in. 

  1. Eye drops for dry eye are not the same as “rewetting drops”.

The two categories are easily confused, but are very different. Dry eye drops are made to lubricate the eye, not the contact lens. Many of these drops contain oils or are fairly thick. This can temporarily or permanently cloud your contact lenses. If you have dry eyes, talk to your doctor about what drops are best for you. If a medication is needed for dry eye, you will likely be advised to follow the 15-minute rule.

  1. Pay attention to contact lens rewetting drop labels.

Most drops that are made for use with contact lenses will have the word “contacts” right on the front of the label. These drops are designed specifically to lubricate the eye and lens surface to make your wearing experience more comfortable. You can use these drops as frequently as you wish. In fact, eye doctors often recommend them to improve comfort.

Do You Really Need All Those Eye Drops?

If wearing contacts makes your eyes look red, or if you have dryness, itching, or discomfort, it may be time to consult with your eye doctor. Your doctor can help you select a lens that suits your unique ocular challenge. A daily disposable may make your eyes more comfortable and may also limit protein and allergen deposits that can accumulate with repeated use of a single pair of lenses. Good options include clariti® 1 day and MyDay® daily disposable contact lenses.

Nothing in this blog post is to be construed as medical advice, nor is it intended to replace the recommendations of a medical professional. For specific questions, please see your eye care practitioner.

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