Risks Of Overusing Eye Drops
Keep Track Of Dosages
As with any medication, its important that eyedrops be taken as directed. Missing doses or overusing drops can affect treatment. Marioneaux suggests timing doses to an existing routine, such as when you take other medications, or setting an alarm on a smartphone or other device as a reminder.
You may want to move an eyedrop bottle from one location to another once it’s been used. If you prefer, keep a log or draw up a chart and check off the dose whenever a drop is applied.
If a patient with a potentially serious condition like glaucoma cant remember whether they used their eye medicine, Marioneaux advises putting in a drop to be safe. If theyre not sure and their pressure is really poorly controlled, Id rather have them do an extra one if they havent done it than to not do it, she says. But Marioneaux emphasizes, “I do not routinely want them putting an extra drop in.
Getting Started With Eye Drops
- Always read the label before purchasing eye drops. If you have any questions, ask your pharmacist.
- Avoid your allergy triggers. Check pollen counts before you go outside, keep doors and windows closed, and run the air conditioning.
- Wrap ice in a towel or dip a towel in cold water, then place it on your eye. This may help reduce redness and itching.
- Avoid contact lenses while you are having discomfort or while using eye drops.
Eye medications may seem harmless, but they can be dangerous in certain medical conditions. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor before using eye drops if you have any of the following conditions:
- overactive thyroid
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Side Effects Of Steroid Eye Drops
Steroid eye drops are used to treat a variety of conditions that include everything from dry eyes to arthritis flare-ups in the eye. Steroids mimic a naturally occurring substance in the body called cortisol that reduces inflammation in eye disease and prevents scarring after eye injuries or surgeries. While steroid eye drops have a low risk of complications when used correctly, they can have damaging side effects.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
What Are Allergy Eye Drops + Side Effects
Allergy eye drops are a type of liquid medication that is used for people who experience allergies in their eyes. Often, the symptoms of eye allergies are triggered by those things that trigger hay fever, including pet dander, dust, or pollen. As a result, people experience tearing, swollen eyelids, bloodshot or red eyes, itchy eyes, feeling like something is inside the eye, or burning feelings in the eye. Sometimes, allergies can also be triggered by contact lenses or certain medications.
Read Also: How To Deal With Seasonal Allergies
What Are Artificial Tears Made Of
If youre debating using artificial tears for your dry eyes, what are they made of? The active ingredients are generally safe to use as often as you need, but its still important to know what youre putting in your eyes. Artificial tears attempt to mimic real tears, using a mixture of different ingredients, including:
- Lubricants to moisturize your eyes
- Guar gum used to keep tears from drying up
- Electrolytes to help heal the surface of the eye
- Preservatives to prevent bacteria growth in the bottle
Many optometrists dont recommend using artificial tears with preservatives more than 4 times a day. The chemicals used may irritate your eyes, but why are these preservatives bad for dry eyes?
You Use Visine Regularly But Your Eye Redness Is Getting Worse Instead Of Better
The blood vessels on your eyes surface dilate in response to irritants. The increased blood flow associated with this dilation is intended to send oxygen and nutrients to repair whatever has irritated the eye. Medicated eye drops like Visine work by clamping down on the blood vessels and constricting blood flow so the eyes look less red and irritated.
Using these eye drops occasionally is not a problem. But overusing the drops can set up a cycle of dependency. Your eyes have to work even harder to deliver oxygen and nutrients to the blood vessels. The more you use the drops, the redder your eyes become. This is sometimes referred to as rebound redness. Eventually this can escalate to chronic eye redness.
If you use the drops for a few days and dont see relief, its important to see an eye doctor to determine the root cause of the problem and find a better solution.
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Can Allergies Cause Dry Eyes
Yes, allergies can contribute to dry eye. Dr. Schellenberg says antihistamine medications, which help treat allergies, decrease tear production. This decrease in tear production can lead to dry eye.
Chronic allergic conjunctivitis may also cause tissue changes in the glands within the eyelids, she says. This tissue change can result in the production of unhealthy tear components which leads to dry eyes.
Because they are so closely related, having dry eye can lead to eye allergies and having eye allergies can lead to dry eye. For example, pollen and other airborne particles associated with seasonal allergies can cause inflammation that triggers dry eye. On the other hand, people with existing dry eye syndrome have issues with tear production. Without an adequate tear film present to properly lubricate the eye, the eye cannot protect against allergens.
When Should I Not Use Eye Drops
The first thing you should do is make sure they arent prescription eye drops. Those are geared towards curing specific conditions, not just moistening the eyes.
Second, its not a good idea to use eye drops that are more than a month old. The preservatives that keep them sterile only last for about 28 days, and should definitely be disposed of after three months. After that, you run the risk of inflammation, irritation, or even infection because bacteria may get into the drops. If you need the drops for medical purposes, they may not be as effective in treating any eye condition you may have.
Also, dont use someone elses eye drops, especially if they are prescription drops. As mentioned above, prescription drops are designed to treat specific ailments. On top of that, you also run the risk of spreading infections between the two of you.
Even if they arent old or medicated eye drops, the drops you have may not be good for your needs. For example, your itchiness may be caused by allergies. If so, try to avoid over-the-counter allergy drops, as their antihistamine effects can dry your eyes out more, CEENTA OphthalmologistErnest Bhend, MD, said. Instead, use artificial tears, or even prescription allergy eye drops. Since a lot of allergy symptoms can actually be caused by dry eye, artificial tears will not only moisten your eyes but can also help flush out the allergens.
You also want to avoid eye drops that are designed to get the red out, Dr. Bhend said.
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Can Overusing Eye Drops Be Harmful
Do you find yourself constantly reaching for eye drops? This could be a sign that you are overusing your eye drops and causing further irritation to your eyes. Like any medication, eye drops must be taken as directed. And unless your doctor has instructed you to do so, eye drops should not be taken on a daily basis for weeks at a time. In fact, overusing eye drops can actually put your eye health at risk. Here are a few ways overusing eye drops can be harmful.
Types of Eye Drops
Before diving into the risks of overusing eye drops. Its important to know the types of eye drops available over the counter.
Artificial tears: Artificial tears are used to maintain moisture. They often contain electrolytes or thickening agents. Artificial tears are available with and without preservatives. Preservatives give eye drops a longer shelf life for added convenience. However, these chemicals can irritate the eyes.
Medicated eye drops: These contain sympathomimetics, an ingredient that works to reduce irritation and redness in the eyes an effect also known as, clamp down. Blood vessels dilate from irritation and the drops help clamp down the blood vessels.
Allergy eye drops: A subset of medicated eye drops, these drops contain antihistamines that help combat itchy and red eyes due toallergies.
What Are the Risks?
- They Can Wash Away Your Natural Tears
- They Can Increase Eye Redness, Dryness, and Irritation
- May Hide Serious Underlying Problems
What To Look For In An Allergy Eye Drop
Speaking of medication, Dr. Haizen recommends looking for anti-histamine products to best treat your ocular symptoms. “An effective allergy eye drop should target allergy relief, instead of just being an artificial tear or lubricating eye drop or drop that that only targets redness,” she says.
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What Are Antihistamine Eye Drops
Antihistamine eye drops are a form of liquid medication for eye allergy relief. They are taken topically and applied directly to the affected eye. Eye allergies are caused by environmental stimulants, such as:
- Pet dander
- Contact lenses
Some of these eye drops require a prescription. However, most antihistamine eye drops do not, including leading medications such as Pataday, Alaway, and Zaditor.
What Happens When You Use Too Much Eye Drops
Allergy Eye Drops
These eye drops contain antihistamines and decongestants. They are prescribed to individuals with ocular allergy symptoms, such as watery eyes, itching, puffiness, and redness. The decongestants give relief to red and puffy eyes, while the antihistamines fight histamine that causes the eyes to water and become itchy. If you use these eye drops too much, your eyes may get dry, red, and irritated. You may end up experiencing more allergy symptoms, which can lead your eyes to become dependent on the eye drops.
Whitening Eye Drops
Many over-the-counter whitening or decongestant eye drops contain vasoconstrictors like naphazoline and tetrahydrozoline. These eye drops inhibit blood flow to the scleras outer blood vessels or the white part of the eye and the conjunctiva. As a result, the eyes appear less red. However, every time you use these eye drops, the blood vessels narrow, reducing blood flow and keeps oxygen and nutrients from reaching the sclera.
Once you stop using these eye drops, you may experience eye rebounding. After discontinuing the extended use of these eye drops, the blood vessels in the sclera may get larger and redder as they attempt to bring oxygen and nutrients to the eyes. A lot of people who want to keep their eyes looking white are dependent on these eye drops.
Lubricating Eye Drops
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Otc Cold And Allergy Medications
According to Dr. Werner, antihistamines and cold and allergy medication can cause angle closure in people with narrow-angle glaucoma who have not been treated via laser treatment called laser iridotomy. The risk is to people who either have not been treated, according to Dr. Pederson, or to people who arent aware that they have narrow-angle glaucoma. All of these medications cause pupil dilation, which closes the angle and results in a rise in pressure and severe pain in the eye.
Its Time To Schedule An Eye Exam
While you might be tempted to just keep using eye drops the way you have been, an eye exam could reveal deeper-seated issues and catch vision problems before they get too far to correct. Dont cover the symptoms and neglect the cause. Eye drops are a convenient but temporary solution, not a long-term fix.
If youre suffering from dry eyes or an irritation that hasnt resolved on its own, it might be time to get your eyes examined. Call 602-603-4247 to schedule an appointment or visit aBarnet Dulaney Perkins office in your neighbourhood.
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Before Taking This Medicine
You should not use Clear Eyes if you are allergic to it, or if you have narrow-angle glaucoma.
Ask a doctor or pharmacist if it is safe for you to take this medicine if you have other medical conditions, especially:
a thyroid disorder or
an eye injury or infection.
FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether Clear Eyes will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.
It is not known whether naphazoline ophthalmic passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
How To Administer Eye Drops
Although many people can administer their own drops easily, for others the task is not as simple. Whether you are using over-the-counter or prescription drops, use the step-by-step guide below to help you administer them correctly:
- Wash your hands with soap and water.
- Shake the bottle gently.
- Tilt your head back and gaze upward at the ceiling you can sit or stand.
- With your dominant hand, hold the bottle between your thumb and forefinger.
- Bring the bottle up to your eye.
- Using the little finger on your dominant hand, pull down the lower eyelid.
- While holding the bottle above your open eyelid, squeeze it so that one drop falls onto the eye.
- If the eye drop makes it into your eye, let go of your eyelid and close your eye.
- Repeat on the other eye.
To help you make the process smoother, remember to:
- Avoid letting the bottle touch your eyeball.
- Avoid letting the drops run down into your nose and throat. To do this, place the index finger of your dominant hand on the lacrimal sac . Hold your finger there for approximately two minutes.
- If you are unsuccessful the first time, try administering a second drop.
- If you are unable to administer the drops yourself, ask a family member or friend to help you inform your eye doctor of your inability to administer the drops.
- Try storing your eye drops in the refrigerator the coolness of the drops can make it easier to tell when the drops enter the eye.
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Symptoms May Also Be Due To Contact Allergy
- Many cosmetics , will cause a contact allergy of the eyelids, which may occur in only one eye
- Other causes include antibiotics and the preservative thiomersal .
- Some plants will also cause contact allergy, including Grevillea ‘Robyn Gordon’, African violets and a number of bulbs. Since the Rhus tree has been declared a noxious weed the number of cases of this serious contact allergy has declined.
- Usually there is an initial improvement of the condition after prescribed eye drops are used and then a continuing deterioration, only improved by ceasing the eye drops.
- Bathing the eyes with cooled boiled water will give comfort as the condition improves.
- A doctor will usually use patch testing to confirm the diagnosis and inquire about whether any non-prescribed or herbal drops have been used.
May Wash Away Your Natural Tears
Artificial tears provide lubrication if your natural tear production diminishes or the quality of your tear film is compromised. However, overusing artificial tears can actually flush out the tears your eyes do produce. Or, it can wash away the oily layer of the tear film that helps the tears stick to the surface of the eyes. As a result, the tears evaporate too quickly and dry eye problems continue.
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Doctor Recommended Allergy Eye Drops
With so many allergy eye drops available, it can be nearly impossible to choose the best brand and formulation for your needs.
For the greatest relief from eye allergy symptoms, see an eye doctor near you for a careful evaluation and a professional recommendation of the best allergy eye drops for you.
Page updated on Tuesday, March 15, 2022
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How To Treat Dry Eyes From Allergies
There are many different treatments for dry eye ranging from over-the-counter artificial tears to prescription medications to lid procedures. Dr. Schellenberg says finding the right treatment depends on the root of the problem.
The best way to differentiate dry eye syndrome from allergies is to first have an eye exam, as they can be difficult to manage without a treatment plan from an eye doctor.
Ocular allergies are often treated with antihistamine drops. There are several over-the-counter and some stronger prescription antihistamine drops available, she says. Additionally, steroid drops may be needed if ocular allergies are severe.
Since antihistamine drops can decrease tear production, your eye doctor may recommend using preservative-free artificial tears in conjunction with allergy drops to keep your eyes lubricating and from drying out.
Before trying medications, there are several simple things you can try to see if your symptoms improve. Avoiding allergens altogether can limit the histamine production, thus decreasing the dry, itchy feeling in your eyes.
This may sound easier said than done, but avoid going outdoors when pollen counts are higher early at dawn and dusk. Keeping windows closed during the summer can keep allergens from getting in your house. Clean your house regularly to remove dust and pet dander that collects on surfaces.
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