Ask The Optometrist: Are Rewetting Drops And Lubricating Eye Drops The Same?

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Ask The Optometrist: Are Rewetting Drops And Lubricating Eye Drops The Same?

Many Albertans suffer from dry eye symptoms, with many receiving an official diagnosis of Dry Eye Syndrome (DES). Dry eyes can cause a great amount of discomfort and even pain and many people search for fast relief in the form of eye drops. But you shouldn’t go out and use just any eye drops, as there are different dry eye care products designed for different causes of dry eyes. For example, rewetting drops can help relieve dry eye symptoms while wearing contact lenses, but lubricating eye drops are for dry eye relief without contacts. Even though both of these products offer similar relief, they do have key differences. Before you begin using eye drops, speak with your optometrist about what forms of dry eye relief are best for you.


What Your Optometrist Says About Rewetting Drops Versus Artificial Tears

What Are Rewetting Drops?
Rewetting drops are considered an in-eye contact solution. They are meant to be used to help hydrate contacts, but not to address the symptoms of dry eyes when contacts are not in the eye. When contacts begin to feel dry, you will want to use rewetting drops to help hydrate them. Different rewetting drops can help hydrate the contacts using distinct methods. Some rewetting drops will coat the lenses to increase hydration of the lens and therefore increase comfort, whereas others will bind to the water component in your tears. This will help prevent tears from evaporating and will increase the amount of moisture in the contact.

Rewetting drops are used specifically to help lubricate contacts and they are not meant to be a frequent solution for dry eyes. In fact, if some types of contact lens rewetting drops are overused, they can further tear evaporation or contribute to corneal damage. These eye drops are not meant for long-term eye care or daily use and are instead meant to provide relief either while you are searching for a solution to your dry eye issues or on occasions where your contacts are more dry than usual, such as when the weather becomes hot and/or windy.

What Are Lubricating Eye Drops?
Unlike rewetting drops, lubricating eye drops (also called artificial tears) are not designed specifically to hydrate contacts but are instead designed to help relieve dry eye symptoms. Dry eyes are often caused by a tear film that does not work properly, either because the tears are evaporating too fast or because an insufficient amount of tears is being produced to begin with. Lubricating eye drops coat the cornea to help build the tear layer and prevent evaporation while also helping any previously exposed areas of the cornea to heal. It is not recommended to use lubricating eye drops with preservatives more than 6 times a day, but preservative-free lubricating eye drops can be used as frequently as desired. Discuss with your optometrist before regularly using artificial tears.

If you suffer from dry eye symptoms or DES, your optometrist may be able to offer solutions beyond lubricating eye drops. While there are some steps you can take to help alleviate your dry eye symptoms, your optometrist will be able to give a more thorough dry eye diagnosis and can recommend dry eye relief products and potentially in-clinic treatments.

Dry Eye Relief From A Calgary Optometrist

If you suffer from dry eyes or if your dry eye symptoms are exacerbated by wearing contact lenses, speak with an optometrist from Specs in the City to find eye relief treatments that work for you. Your optometrist can administer a dry eye test to determine if you have DES and what the severity is. Specs in the City in SE Calgary provides eye exams and dry eye testing to children, adults, and seniors and our highly experienced optometrists can help relieve the aggravating symptoms of dry eyes. To book a dry eye test with a Calgary optometrist, contact Specs in the City at 1-403-252-2020 or fill out the online contact form. If you’re looking for dry eye relief products, check out the optometrist-recommended selection of products at Specs in the City.


Q: How do I know if I have DES or if my contacts just irritate my eyes?
A: Your contacts should feel fairly comfortable in general and should not cause frequent irritation of your eyes. If they do, the contact may have a tear, particles trapped underneath, or another issue that you should discuss with your optometrist. To determine if your dry eye symptoms are caused by DES, your optometrist can administer a dry eye test. To learn more about how your optometrist diagnoses dry eyes, read How Our Calgary Optometrists Diagnose Dry Eye Syndrome.

Q: What Causes Dry Eyes?
A: Dry eyes can be caused by many factors including:

  • Our windy dry Alberta climate
  • Screen use 
  • Infection 
  • Medication use
  • Diabetes or other underlying medical conditions
  • An imbalance in the composition of your tears
  • Laser eye surgery

Q: Can I still wear contacts if I suffer from dry eye syndrome?
A: Yes, but your optometrist may require you to switch contact lenses and solutions to ones that will not irritate your eyes while wearing them. Your optometrist may also recommend wearing daily disposable contact lenses to reduce eye irritation. You may be required to wear your eyeglasses more often to prevent possible irritation from occurring with long-term wear of contact lenses.

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