It’s hard to find someone without a smartphone these days. Telecommuting, online lectures, and video conferencing are becoming more active from anywhere. However, this means that the number of things that irritate our eyes, such as smartphone screens, TVs, and various monitors, is increasing. Our eyes get tired easily. The increase in presbyopia patients in their early 40s is also influenced by these factors. In addition, more and more people in their 20s and 30s are using artificial tears for LASIK and LASEK surgery. The trend is the same for those in their 50s and 60s as various eye-related surgeries such as cataract surgery and lens implantation are being actively performed.
What are artificial tears?
Tears are not only meant to express the emotion of sadness, but also to soften the eyes. Tears contain water as well as proteins and minerals, which balance the electrolyte state of the eye. It also plays a variety of roles, such as washing away waste products from the eyes and protecting it from external stimuli. In short, tears are an essential part of eye health.
However, modern people often do not have enough tears in their eyes due to various stimuli. In that case, artificial tears are needed. Artificial tears are literally used instead of real tears.
The types of artificial tears vary according to their composition and form. Generally, it is divided into single-use or multi-use (in bottles). There are also over-the-counter over-the-counter drugs and prescription drugs that require a prescription from a doctor. So what’s the difference between them?
Prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs
Most of the artificial tears classified as prescription drugs have hyaluronic acid as their main ingredient. Hyaluronic acid relieves dryness by retaining moisture on the surface of the eye.
The concentration of hyaluronic acid varies from product to product, but 0.1%, 0.18%, and 0.3% products are the main ones. The higher the concentration, the higher the moisturizing power, but the higher the viscosity.
High concentrations of artificial tears may interfere with the flow of tears. Therefore, it is recommended to use artificial tears with high concentration of hyaluronic acid only when necessary according to the prescription of a specialist.
Artificial tears classified as over-the-counter drugs are dominated by carboxycellulose. However, in recent years, artificial tears made with polydeoxyribonucleotide (PDRN) or trehalose, which have been proven to have tissue regeneration effects against micro-damage, are getting more attention. Most of the artificial tears with these ingredients come out as disposable artificial tears, and of course, preservative-free products are the trend.
Most of the bottled artificial tears are products that contain several active ingredients. It mainly contains glucose, potassium chloride, sodium chloride, sodium chondroitin sulfate and hypromellose. They also often contain preservatives to adjust acidity and prevent contamination from bacteria and the like. Some products contain menthol, etc., which gives a cooling sensation when applied to the eyes.
Artificial tears, when and how to use them?
So, when should you use artificial tears? Over-the-counter artificial tears can be used when there is eye fatigue, dryness, or dullness. It can also be considered if there is discomfort when using hard or soft contact lenses. Usually, 1 to 2 drops of artificial tears are put into the eye at a time, and it can be used up to 5-6 times a day.
Bottled artificial tears may be contaminated by bacteria or foreign substances in the air after opening. Therefore, it is recommended to use it within a month after opening. And be careful not to let the mouth of the bottle touch your eyelids or eyebrows. This is because eye mucus or bacteria can contaminate the artificial tear solution.
It is desirable to discard 1 to 2 drops of disposable artificial tears after opening. This is to remove debris as they may remain when opened. Also, it is recommended not to recap, and boldly throw away the remaining eye drops after one use. This is because disposable artificial tears do not contain preservatives. Reusing it can cause catastrophic eye problems with foreign substances or bacterial contamination.
Precautions for artificial tears in contact lens users
As various contact lenses become popular, many people wonder if it is okay to use artificial tears while wearing contact lenses. There are many artificial tears available that can be used while wearing contact lenses, though not all products on the market are like that.
Therefore, it is recommended that you check with your doctor or pharmacist to see if you can use contact lenses and artificial tears together. Artificial tears on the market recently indicate on the packaging whether they can be used with contact lenses, so check it out.
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