Red Eye Drops

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Red Eye Drops

Redness of your eyes can result from a variety of factors. Some of the most common factors that can cause a red eye are your air-conditioning, your blink rate, something foreign has gone in your eye, you’ve had an allergic reaction to something, you’re suffering from a bacterial infection, you’ve contracted a fungal infection, or you’re suffering with an inflammatory reaction.

There is only one of these reactions that the use of over the counter “Red Eye Drops” is somewhat useful for. That being an allergic type reaction. Red eye drops are designed for short term use (up to or less than 72 hours) for the reduction of redness associated with allergies. These drops are vasoconstrictors which means they constrict or shrink the small blood vessels at the front of your eyes so that your eyes look less red. These drops also contain other active ingredients that effect your eyes in ways other than whitening their appearance.

Problems arise with over the counter red eye drops when people use them long term for the cosmetic purpose of whitening their eyes.

Long term use of these drops leads to: –

  1. Dry eyes – an active component in red eye drops slows down your tear production. When your eyes have an allergic reaction to something they ramp up their tear production to try and flush the allergen out of the eye(s). When using red eye drops for cosmetic purposes the root cause of your red eyes is being masked. This only exacerbates the reason why your eyes are always red due to the drops’ drying effects on your eyes, dryness causes redness.
  2. Toxicity – over use of red eye drops leads to your eyes suffering from the toxic effects of the active ingredients in these drops. Remember these drops are designed only for short term use i.e. up to or less than 72 hours. By exposing your eyes to repeated doses of red eye drops for whitening you are damaging your eyes by stripping away their first line of defence, the tear film, exposing your eyes to otherwise non-problematic irritants.
  3. Rebound Redness – with continued long-term usage red eye drops will become ineffective and you will no longer be able to rid your eyes of redness. The mode of action of these drops is to shrink the blood vessels so that with less blood in these vessels your eyes don’t look red, an appearance often negatively associated with alcoholism or drug abuse. Over time, with continual use of red eye drops, your small blood vessel walls lose their elasticity from the effects of repeated shrinkage and enlargement. This leads to your eyes being permanently red as the blood vessel walls remain in their fully relaxed and dilated state.

I have had patients come to me that have been using red eye drops daily, 2-3 times a day, for 10-15 years wanting me to tell them what drops to use now as their eyes won’t go white anymore. Unfortunately, it is far too late for them and no drops will work as they have irreversibly damaged their blood vessel walls.

If you have red eyes daily you should discontinue using red eye drops (if you are using them now) and carry out my lid hygiene practice twice a day for 4 weeks – download my recommended lid hygiene steps from this website. If you haven’t noticed an improvement in the appearance of your eyes after 4 weeks of at home treatment, you need to see your Optometrist for a check-up and diagnosis of the cause of your red eyes.

Argus Version:

Redness of your eyes can result from a variety of factors. Over the counter “Red Eye Drops” are designed for short term use (up to or less than 72 hours) for the reduction of redness associated with allergies. These drops are vasoconstrictors which means they constrict or shrink the small blood vessels at the front of your eyes so that your eyes look less red.

Problems arise with over the counter red eye drops when people use them long term for the cosmetic purpose of whitening their eyes.

Long term use of these drops leads to dry eyes, toxicity, and rebound redness. If you have red eyes daily you should discontinue using red eye drops (if you are using them now) and carry out my lid hygiene practice twice a day for 4 weeks, click below for your printable version.

Printable Instructions

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