Eye lubricants are used in the treatment of dry eye. They may be packaged in multi-dose containers with a preservative, or in preservative-free single dose containers. If you use lubricant frequently you may react to the preservative with symptoms such as stinging, burning and red eyes. If this is the case, you should switch to a preservative-free lubricant.
Ointments are retained in the eye longer than drops because of their thicker consistency, but may cause temporary blurring of vision. Because of this, some people use lubricant drops during daytime and an ointment at night.
If you wear contact lenses, you should check with your optometrist or pharmacist that the product is compatible with the lenses, as some eye lubricants contain preservatives that may affect contact lenses.
To apply drops:
To apply ointment, hold the tube between the thumb and forefinger, and rest your hand against your nose to position the tip of the ointment tube. Apply a small strip of ointment into the lower eyelid pocket.
Do not touch the eye with the dropper or tube tip. You should also discard all drops, solutions and ointments one month after opening to avoid bacterial contamination. In hot weather, it is preferable to store eye lubricants in the fridge. Single dose lubricant eye drops remain sterile until opened, if used within the expiry date printed on the packet.
Last Reviewed: 11 May 2009