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Over the Counter Drops
Artificial tears or lubricants are a large category of over-the-counter eye drops. Most come in a thin, moderate, or thick preparation. Thinner drop examples Refresh, moderate thickness drops would be Refresh Liquigel, and thicker drops might be Bion Tears or Celluvisc. The thicker the drop, the longer its contact with the front of the eye and thus more relief. Some people like the feel of a thinner drop while others like a thicker drop. It's like choosing a shampoo. You not only want one that works well for you but also one that "eels good when you're using it! Most of the artificial tear drops can also be used with contact lenses. However, the thicker drops may gum up a soft contact lens and diminish clarity of vision.
In the same way, ointments come in various thicknesses. They should not be used with contact lenses since they will definitely gum up the lens. Ointments are good for some people who have erosions or exposure of their cornea since they sit on the front of the eye for a longer time than drops.
It's best to ask your eye doctor which one will work best for you. We are generally more aware of the formulations and preservatives and often prefer lubricant drops that do not have a preservative since it's one less thing to cause irritation. Others may have a preservative such as benzalkonium chloride or "BAK". It's well-tolerated by many people but frequent use can cause some breakdown or irritation of the corneal tissue. As with any medicine, it's helpful for us as eye doctors to know which eye drop you have used and which has provided comfort versus which may have caused more irritation. By evaluating the ingredients of the product, we can help you steer away from other eye drops with a different name but similar formulations.