Tears, which are made up of water, oil, mucus, antibodies and protein, according to the Mayo Clinic, lubricate the eyes and keep them moist. The components of tears are made in glands around the eye; a disturbance in any part of tear production results in dry, gritty, red or irritated eyes. Dry eyes can be caused by natural aging processes, diseases, structural problems with the eye and certain medications
Preservative Free Artifical Tears
When you need to use artificial tears more often than four times a day, look for brands that contain no preservatives, because preservatives can further irritate the eye, according to the American Optometric Association. Some brands that have no preservatives are Optive, Refresh, Thera Tears, Genteal Visine Tears, Refresh Endura, and Refresh PM ointment, according to The Eye Digest, published by the University of Illinois Eye and Ear Infirmary. Brands change their formulas, so be sure to read the bottles and packaging. However, if your only choice is a brand with a preservative, the newer preservatives such as sodium perbonate, sodium chloride and polyquaternium-1 are less harmful than benzalkonium chloride (BAK), according to the University of Illinois.
Some brands are made in a more viscous form that stays on the eye longer. The disadvantage of these tears is that they can cause vision to be blurry for up to half an hour, according to The Eye Digest. Brands that are less viscous are less likely to cause eye irritation and prolonged blurry vision. Systane and Refresh Tears are two popular brands of viscous tears; according to The Eye Digest, Systane has a viscosity of 10 compared to a viscosity of three for Refresh. Both are considerably less viscous than two other brands, Celluvisc and Liquigel, with viscosities of 350 and 70, respectively.
Tears for Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD)
Meibomian glands produce oils that keeps tears from evaporating too quickly. Brands that contains oils, such as Refresh Endura and Soothe are helpful if you have meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD).
Cyclosporine is available in a prescription anti-inflammatory, Restasis, which increases tear production and is useful for dry eye with ocular inflammation. The FDA has approved the use of Restasis for inflammation related to keratoconjunctivitis sicca (chronic dry eye).
According to the National Eye Institute, prescription steroid drops can be used for chronic dry eye if other methods aren't relieving symptoms. These should be used only on the advice of your doctor.