artificial tears

These are rewetting drops that can be bought over the counter and used for dry eye. Artificial tears are produced by many manufacturers and are essentially all the same. The only real difference between them is what preservative is used to keep the drops sterile. This preservative is crucial for keeping the drops fresh and free of environmental bacteria. However, the preservative itself (especially BAK) can be irritating to the eye if the drops are used too often.  Preservative-free artificial tears are available that eliminate this problem. They come in single-use disposable plastic dispensers and can be used as often as needed.

Dr. Timothy Root is a practicing ophthalmologist and cataract surgeon in Daytona Beach, Florida. His books, video lectures, and training resources can be found at:


  1. When it comes to artificial tears, I don’t have a strong brand preference. Drug reps tell me that certain drops have less harsh preservatives, but I’m not sure if I buy it.

    Generally, I break down rewetting tears into four types:

    1. Regular tears: generic, Sooth, GenTeal, etc..
    2. Preservative Free: higher quality, tear-off caps
    3. Gels: thicker suspension that lasts longer
    4. Ointments: thick tubes that cause a lot of blur


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