Technology

Best Over-the-Counter Eye Drops of 2023


$12 at Walmart

ivizia eye drops

iVizia Sterile Lubricant Eye Drops for Dry Eyes

Best overall eye drops

$12 at Walmart

Price alerts on for iVizia Sterile Lubricant Eye Drops for Dry Eyes

$15 at Amazon

systane complete pf

Systane Complete PF Eye Drops

Best eye drops for dry eyes

$9 at Target

blink lubricating eye drops

Blink Eye Drops for Contact Lenses

Best eye drops for contact lens users

$18 at Walmart

systane hydration pf

Systane Hydration PF Eye Drops

Best eye drops for post eye surgery dryness

$18 at Amazon

pataday once daily relief allergy drops

Pataday Once Daily Relief Allergy Eye Drops

Best eye drops for allergies

$18 at Amazon

Price alerts on for Pataday Once Daily Relief Allergy Eye Drops

$17 at Walmart

optase hylo night dry eye ointment

Optase Hylo Night Dry Eye Ointment

Best overnight eye drops

If you’ve experienced dry or red eyes, chances are you reached for eye drops in your medicine cabinet for some relief. It’s important to know that not all over-the-counter eye drops are created alike, so you should make sure you’re using the right ones for the issues you’re experiencing. Eye drops or artificial tears are intended to lubricate the eye and come in a few varieties. There are eye drops with preservatives, preservative-free artificial tears, lipid-based artificial tears and more. The right type will depend on your eye health and issues.

It can be overwhelming to walk into the eye care aisle at your local pharmacy since there are many eye drops for sale with different purposes. Remember to always consult with your eye doctor when in doubt. We spoke to various experts to narrow down their top choices in eye drops based on different needs. Below are their top eye drop picks for when you’re in a pinch. 

woman applying eye drops

These are some of the best OTC eye drops, according to experts. 

Getty Images

Best eye drops of 2023

ivizia eye drops

Amazon

The iVizia eye drops are a favorite among ophthalmologists. These artificial tear eye drops are intended for dry eyes, but are multipurpose and can work for just about any eye issues you have.

You’re receiving price alerts for iVizia Sterile Lubricant Eye Drops for Dry Eyes

systane complete pf

Amazon

Systane is a trusted brand recommended by optometrists for those with dry eyes. As someone who’s struggled with dry eyes, this product is also my usual go-to. The Systane eye drops work for up to eight hours and are ideal for dry, sensitive eyes. The bottle is designed to dispense nano droplets so you don’t waste any product. They’re also safe enough to use regularly since they’re free of preservatives.

You’re receiving price alerts for Systane Complete PF Eye Drops

lumify eye drops

Amazon

It’s important to know the cause of red eyes before self-medicating. Koetting said that “if someone has red eyes it is typically a symptom of something else, such as more severe dry eye disease and is a good idea to see an eye care professional, especially if there is any sudden pain with it..

You’re receiving price alerts for Lumify

blink lubricating eye drops

Amazon

If you wear contact lenses then you’re probably used to having to dry eyes when you wear them for too long. That’s why it’s important to rewet them throughout the day. Blink eye drops are popular lubricating eye drops for contact lens users. These drops can be used before inserting your contacts or after the fact. Blink contacts aren’t preservative-free and include an ingredient known as OcuPure which is a gentle oxidative preservative made up of sodium chloride and other ingredients that transform into natural tear components in the eye.

systane hydration pf

Amazon

One of the post-surgery side effects of LASIK or cataract eye surgery is dry eyes. A safe eye drop choice that will help relieve dryness caused by eye surgery is Systane’s Hydration PFeye drops.

You’re receiving price alerts for Systane Hydration PF Eye Drops

pataday once daily relief allergy drops

Amazon

Allergy sufferers know that allergy season can wreak havoc on your eyes. That’s why having dependable eye drops on hand can be helpful. Pataday Once Daily Relief Allergy Eye Drops are recommended by physicians because they contain an antihistamine that offers fast symptom relief for mild to moderate allergies. They can tackle indoor and outdoor allergens like dander, pollen, ragweed and grass. If you use contact lenses, it’s advised to not use these drops while wearing them and if you do, you should wait ten minutes after application before inserting them.

You’re receiving price alerts for Pataday Once Daily Relief Allergy Eye Drops

optase hylo night dry eye ointment

Amazon

Sometimes you will need overnight drops if you need extra lubrication in your eyes. Overnight drops are different from your standard eye drops. “Oftentimes a thicker gel or ointment may be recommended for overnight 8-hour relief while sleeping,” said Nathan Lighthizer, an optometrist and associate dean at the Northeastern State University Oklahoma College of Optometry.

You’re receiving price alerts for Optase Hylo Night Dry Eye Ointment

How we evaluated the best eye drops

We consulted with ophthalmologists and optometrists who prescribe eye drops to patients regularly and are familiar with the many OTC brands on the market. 

How to pick eye drops

Before buying any type of eye drops, it’s important to speak with your doctor so they can evaluate your issue. In some cases, OTC eye drops are sufficient, but in other situations you may need prescription medicated drops. 

If your issue can be resolved with OTC eye drops, you should know that there are drops with preservatives and others without them. The preservative-free eye drops are generally safe for most people — including pregnant people — and can be used every hour or as directed. Drops with preservatives should be used more conservatively because they can worsen some cases. The same is true for other drops, such as the ones for redness relief. 

“Poor-quality artificial tears, or ones that tout the red out, often have chemicals that can cause problems including rebound redness, dilation of the eyes, corneal toxicity, blurred vision and worsening of dry eye disease,” Koetting warned.

Dr. Edmund Farris, an associate clinical professor of ophthalmology at Mount Sinai, added that these preservatives have the ability to change aspects of the eye. He said, “the preservatives in most drops can alter the corneal surface and cause loss of these superficial corneal cells, which may eventually lead to more symptoms.” So if you’re using these types of drops too often, this can become an issue. 

Some signs to look out for if you think you’re having a negative reaction to eye drops include redness that gets worse, irritation, blurred vision and a burning or grittiness sensation. Oftentimes this occurs due to the preservatives found in some drops. Koetting said that if these symptoms don’t improve, it can indicate an allergy or sensitivity to the drops. “However, if a person notices that they are having an increase in itching, swelling around the eye or the whites of the eyes become swollen and red, they should immediately discontinue the drop and call an eye care professional,” she added. 

When eye drops aren’t enough

In some cases you may need steroids or other medicated treatments if OTC eye drops are not doing their job. 

“Oftentimes, dry eye disease has multiple causes, and will take multiple treatments to see improvement,” Lighthizer said. He added that a patient with mild to severe dry eye may require multiple treatments, including OTC artificial tears (usually preservative-free) along with a prescription dry eye drop. 

According to Koetting, a good rule of thumb to follow is if the symptoms have minimal improvement over two weeks or if you find yourself using over the counter artificial tears more than twice a day. “We know that dry eye disease is a chronic problem that can flare depending on the season and the patient will likely need to be evaluated for appropriate care and then monitored,” she said.