Are OTC Eye Drops Safe?

Just because a product like eye drops is sold “over the counter” (i.e., available without a prescription) doesn’t mean that they are without potential risks or complications. OTC eye drops aren’t dangerous, but it is important to follow the directions for proper use and practice common sense.

Below, trusted New York ophthalmologist Dr. Sandra Belmont of Belmont Eye Center shares a few tips for the safe use of OTC eye drops.

Read the Directions Carefully

Understanding and following the product instructions is critical. Make sure you understand the dosing guidelines and potential side effects (i.e., temporary blurry vision). Also check for special instructions, like discarding single-use drops after each use or refrigerating medicines that need to stay cold.

Never Share Eye Drops

Even though sharing a bottle of eye drops or contact lens solution may seem innocuous, it’s actually quite risky. Eye infections can be spread through the sharing of eye drops if the tip of the dropper accidentally touches the eye.

Be Aware of the “Rebound” Effect of Drops for Red Eyes

Drops like Visine promise to “get the red out” and relieve redness caused by allergies and other factors. But it is important to note that when the effects wear off the redness may appear worse than it did before. This is known as the rebound effect. If you aren’t aware of the rebound effect, you may assume your eyes have gotten used to the drops and therefore start using more eyedrops to compensate. But these drops are not meant to be used in excess or for a prolonged period of time.

Discontinue Any Drops that Cause Irritation

Not every eye drop works for everyone. If you develop irritation or other symptoms after using a particular type or brand of eye drop, stop using them immediately. They may contain an ingredient that you are sensitive to. In that scenario, it’s best to talk to your eye doctor about finding a better brand for your needs.

Consult with an Ophthalmologist about Ongoing Symptoms

If you are regularly experiencing certain symptoms like red, itchy eyes or discomfort, you should consult with an ophthalmologist. There may be an underlying cause like a bacterial infection or chronic dry eye that needs to be addressed by a professional. Also, some eye drops are not designed for long-term use, so it’s best to discuss long-term strategies with a doctor.

Contact Belmont Eye Center

To schedule an appointment with Dr. Belmont, please contact Belmont Eye Center today.