Most eye drops are saline solutions containing medications to treat eye conditions. You can also get non-medicated eye drops to lubricate your eyes or flush out foreign objects. They are generally safe when used correctly and as recommended by your eye specialist.
Read on to learn about the risks of overusing eye drops.
What Are Eye Drops Used For?
Decongestant eye drops constrict the blood vessels in the eye, helping remove redness. You’ll have to consult your local eye doctor if your eyes remain red after using them. Applying them too frequently can result in even more redness.
During colder weather, many people suffer from eye dryness and irritation. If you are among these individuals, you might find relief from over-the-counter lubricating drops or artificial tears. Visit your local eye clinic if these drops don’t help with your symptoms. They might recommend a prescription eye drop if they discover that you have chronic dry eye.
Mold spores, pet dander, dust and pollen are common eye allergy triggers. You can use over-the-counter or prescription eye drops with antihistamines if you have allergies.
Your eye doctor will prescribe antibiotic drops if you have a bacterial eye infection like pink eye. These eye drops can alleviate your symptoms and help your eyes heal. Doctors also prescribe antibiotic drops following eye surgery for infection prevention.
Glaucoma affects the optic nerve and is a leading cause of blindness worldwide. Prescription eye drops are a treatment option for this eye condition. These drops aid in maintaining good eye pressure.
During a comprehensive eye exam, your doctor might use dilating eye drops to enlarge your pupils. It will allow them to get a closer look at the different parts of your eye. Usually, it takes around 20 to 30 minutes for dilating drops to take full effect. During this time, you might notice that your vision is blurred and find it hard to focus on nearby objects.
What Happens When You Overuse Eye Drops?
You Could Experience Rebounding
Rebounding is one of the most common consequences of overusing eye drops. It’s when your symptoms worsen once you stop using the drops. Many eye drops restrict blood vessels in your eyes to relieve itchiness. As a result, your sclera won’t receive sufficient oxygen and nutrients. If eye irritation doesn’t get better after a couple of days of using eye drops, see your eye doctor.
Overusing Eye Drops Can Wash Away Your Natural Tears
When you blink, a thin layer of tear washes over your cornea. Tears are produced by the glands above the eyes and drained into the tear ducts. They protect your eyes against infections and irritants such as dirt and dust. You could develop dry eyes if your eyes don’t make sufficient tears.
While artificial tears can lubricate your eyes and aid with poor tear production, overusing them can wash away your natural tears. When this happens, your tears could evaporate quickly, making your eyes even drier.
It Can Hide Symptoms of Serious Eye Problems
Eye irritation can be a sign of infection, inflammation or trauma. Eye drop overuse can mask symptoms of eye problems, such as blepharitis, conjunctivitis and eye strain.
You Could Suffer From Irritation
Some over-the-counter eye drops contain preservatives that can cause irritation and allergic reactions when overused. Do you use eye drops every day? If so, there’s a high risk of the container’s tip getting contaminated with bacteria, increasing the likelihood of infection.
Quick Tips for Safe Eye Drop Use
Talk to Your Eye Doctor
Schedule an appointment with your eye doctor if you’ve been experiencing eye discomfort or vision changes. The current drops you’re using may be what’s causing your symptoms. Eye specialists can diagnose and treat your eye condition after performing a series of tests.
Moreover, you shouldn’t only see your eye doctor when something’s wrong with your eyes. Regular eye exams can help detect early signs of conditions that can cause vision loss. Besides helping you keep track of your eye health, they can help ensure you have the appropriate vision correction eyewear. Whether you need a comprehensive or contact eye exam, Downtown Eyes is here to help.
Always Follow Instructions
Make it a habit to read packaging labels and follow the instructions included with your eye drops. Determine the recommended dosage and frequency of use. Proper use is crucial to the effectiveness of your eye drops. Did your doctor recommend taking two types of eye drops simultaneously? If so, wait at least three minutes before each use.
Good Hygiene Is Key
Proper hygiene is essential when applying eye drops. Before applying the drops, wash your hands with soap and water and dry them to avoid bringing bacteria to your eyes. If you wear contacts, remove them unless your doctor recommends leaving them in.
As much as possible, don’t let the tip of the container come into contact with your fingers and eyes. Consider using single-use drops, where you dispose of the packaging after each use. It can help lower the risk of contamination and bacterial infection.
Never Share Your Eye Drops
Sharing is caring, but not when it comes to eye drops because they are only for personal use. Letting another person use yours will only heighten your risk of developing an eye infection.
Look for Preservative-Free Eye Drops
Do you use lubricating eye drops frequently? Look for drops without preservatives. You can’t use drops with preservatives for more than four doses a day.