Spring is in the air — and also grass pollen, tree pollen, mold spores, feathers, and many types of dander. Even though many people enjoy this season and look forward to warmer weather and being outside, a large majority of people dread seasonal allergies.
While there are a variety of methods for preventing and treating the symptoms of seasonal allergies, a common method is using eye drops. The downside of using eye drops, however, is having to keep your eyes open while you drop liquid into them. This can be especially difficult for anyone who has recently developed allergies or people who just haven’t had enough practice using artificial tears.
Dr. Sina J. Sabet, an eye doctor and ophthalmologist in Alexandria, wants to ensure that everyone is receiving the best eye care possible, and that their eyes are comfortable no matter the season. In this blog, we’ll go over some tips on using eye drops, why eye drops are beneficial and important, types of eye drops, and we’ll go over some ingredients to look for. If you are struggling with allergies this spring, schedule an appointment with Dr. Sina today.
How to Use Eye Drops and More
How to Use Eye Drops
The processes of using eye drops is pretty simple and straightforward overall, but there are a few steps to take to ensure that it’s done safely and effectively.
- Keep Everything Clean: Before you do anything, wash your hands thoroughly and dry them with a clean towel.
- Remove Contacts: Contacts require a special formula to keep them moist, so unless you’re using eye drops that are made specifically for contacts, remove them before using eye drops.
- Your Head: There are a few techniques as to how you can get ready before applying eye drops. If you are especially nervous about using them, you can try lying down in a comfortable position with your head tilted slightly back. Or you can stand and tilt your head back, looking up at the ceiling.
- Your Eyes: Find a spot on the ceiling to focus on and try to keep your eyes wide open.
- Your Eyelid: With one or two fingers, you’ll want to pull down gently about an inch below the lower lid. This will create a pocket between the lower lid and the eyeball that the drops will fall into.
- Holding the Eye Drops: With one hand opening up your eye, the other hand will hold the eye drops, the tip of the bottle pointing down toward the eye. The bottle should be held about an inch away from your eye so it’s less likely that you’ll miss. Try to avoid touching the eyeball or eyelashes.
- Applying the Drops: Squeeze gently until one drop falls inside the lower lid. Close your eyes and try not to blink so that the liquid has an opportunity to absorb into the eye.
- To Keep the Drop on Your Eye: Along the inner corner of your eyelid is a tear duct that drains tears away from the eye and into the nose. After applying the drop, press on this area to close the duct, this will keep the liquid on your eye for as long as possible.
Applying eye drops can be uncomfortable at first, but the more you do it, the easier it will get. You may miss a few times at first, and you may dread having to do it, but just keep in mind that they are good for your eyes and you’ll be thankful for the relief.
Why Are Eye Drops Important?
Our eyes need to stay hydrated to function properly. A large percentage of your eyes are water, and without this moisture, it can cause:
- Blurred vision
- A scratchy feeling
- An increase of mucus
Eyes naturally produce tears that help to keep them moist, they wash away debris, and work to prevent bacteria from causing infections. People can suffer from dry eye, seasonal allergies, or other conditions that result in the eye not getting enough moisture, which is where eye drops come in to play. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, visit with your eye doctor for a full exam. Even though eye drops can help relieve symptoms, it’s still important to get an exam in case there is an underlying problem.
Types of Eye Drops
The good news is that depending on your symptoms and condition, there is probably a specific type of eye drop that treats your symptoms. When you’re unsure about what type to get, contact your eye doctor.
Eye drops that contain vasoconstrictors are known as decongestant eye drops, or whitening eye drops. These help get rid of redness by shrinking tiny blood vessels in the eye. The downside to these drops is that if they are used too often they can cause dryness and irritation. If the redness is due to tiredness or dryness, a lubricating eye drop may be a safer option.
For Dry Eyes
Look for lubricating eye drops or artificial tears. These are a good option for when you have been outside in windy conditions or if your eyes are irritated due to computer strain. These eye drops contain ingredients that are in your eyes already and are meant as a supplement to your natural tears.
Look for antihistamine eye drops that are designed to treat the symptoms of allergies, including itchiness, redness, wateriness, or swollen eyes. You can consider using decongestant eye drops, but be mindful of how often you use them. If you begin experiencing symptoms of dry eyes, discontinue use.
For Sore Eyes
Sore eyes are often caused by strain, insufficient sleep, stress from allergies, or overuse. However, it’s best to be cautious when treating sore eyes with eye drops as there could be an underlying issue, such as an infection. If you notice a yellowish discharge in the eye, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor. They may prescribe antibiotic eye drops.
The most common eye infection is known as pink eye, or conjunctivitis. There are three types of conjunctivitis: bacterial, viral, and allergic. There are different treatments for each type, so be sure to visit a physician before you self medicate with over-the-counter eye drops.
If you wear contacts, look for rewetting eye drops that treat dry eyes and irritation from wearing contacts. The important thing here is to make sure the eye drops are compatible with your contact lens type.
Ingredients to Look For
In any bottle of eye drops there will be a number of ingredients, some brands may list them as active and inactive ingredients. Overall, you’ll want to look for a few things:
- Sterile Saline: One of the most common ingredients is a simple saline solution, which is a version of filtered salt water that can be used to replicate your body’s natural tears. You’ll find this ingredient in many general artificial tears eye drops.
- Antihistamines: You’ll find this in eye drops made specifically for treating seasonal allergies.
- Lubricating Agents: For dry eyes, look for ingredients like hydroxypropyl methylcellulose or carboxymethylcellulose.
- Tetrahydrozoline: This is the ingredient that helps to shrink the blood vessels in the eye, it is a decongestant used to relieve redness and other irritants.
There’s quite a lot to know and understand about using eye drops, so if you are suffering from seasonal allergies, dry eyes, or other eye conditions, it’s best to visit with an eye doctor for a professional exam and recommendations.
Dr. Sina J. Sabet has been providing exceptional eye care in Alexandria for years and wants to ensure that everyone can experience the joys of spring as well as maintain healthy eyes. Whatever your eye care needs are, from an updated glasses or contacts prescription to laser eye surgery, schedule an appointment with Dr. Sina today!