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11111 Kingston Pike
Knoxville, TN 37934

Monday 7:30 - 4:30
Tuesday 7:30 - 4:30
Wednesday 7:30 - 4:30
Thursday 9:00 - 6:00
Friday 7:30 - 1:00
Saturday Closed
Sunday Closed

 

They go by many names: Visine, Clear Eyes, B&L advanced redness relief, Rohto, and the list goes on. If you are someone who is using these drops daily or for more than just one instance, be warned that they may not be the safest for your eyes.


The Mechanics of the Problem:

The most common active ingredient in these products is either “tetrahydrozoline” or “naphazoline,” and these ingredients act as vasoconstrictors. This means they temporarily clamp down on the surface blood vessels that are dilated when fighting inflammation/irritation. This makes the irritated blood vessels smaller and less noticeable. Short term, this is a very effective cosmetic tool. Long term, however, the blood vessels can dilate even larger when the drug wears off. Therefore, the redness can come back---leading you to need more drops to whiten them again. This vicious cycle of the vessels dilating and constricting over and over can lead to permanent damage of the blood vessels.

 

In simple terms: these drops make the eyes appear whiter (almost like bleaching the eyes), but they cause long-term damage and don’t actually solve the root of the problem.


If you look closely, their warning labels even say that overuse can increase redness of the eyes. So these types of drops are only meant to be used for a very short duration. If you feel like your eyes are dry, scratchy, gritty, etc. you may have dry eye syndrome and need something like an artificial tear instead. These are lubricating drops that help repair damage and are safe to use multiple times per day and on a daily basis. If your eyes are more itchy, then you may have ocular allergies. There are over-the-counter allergy eye drops that work better at relieving allergy symptoms, and they are also safe for daily use. You should consult your eye doctor to find the root cause of your symptoms.


Furthermore, if you are a contact lens wearer, be sure to ask your optometrist if your drops are safe for use with contacts. There are many types of drops that are not, because the contact lenses will actually hold onto the drug and keep it on the ocular surface for longer. NEVER use redness relief drops when wearing contact lenses.


If you are treating your dry eye, ocular allergies, ocular irritation, etc. appropriately as directed by your optometrist, but still having issues with redness, there actually is a new redness relief eye drop that does not contain the harmful vasoconstrictor ingredients. It is called Lumify, made by Bausch & Lomb, is over-the-counter, and FDA-approved. Lumify starts working in 60 seconds and lasts up to 8 hours. There are absolutely no bleach or dyes in this formula. It is safe for daily use. As always, it is best to consult your optometrist before starting a new eye drop as they can make sure it is right for you.



 

Written by Mary N. Chase, OD at Premier Eyecare in Farragut, TN

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