Pesky irritations, like allergies or dry eyes, can make the need for eye drops with your contact lenses a very real thing! Being able to squeeze a few liquid droplets into your peepers to soothe and calm them is sometimes just what the doctor ordered (except not really because we’re talking about general over-the-counter, or OTC, options here!). But for those of us with contacts, can we actually use eye drops with our lenses? If you’ve found yourself with irritated eyes wondering the same thing, we’re here to help! To be up front, the answer is a mixed bag. Keep reading to learn the difference between eye drops you can use with your contacts in place, and those you need to take them out for first.
Dry Eye Drops
Generally speaking, there are three different types of eye drops you’ll find at your local pharmacy: dry, red eye, and contact lens drops, Let’s start with dry drops. These nifty formulations are designed to ease the nuisance that is dry eyes. This can happen from a lot of different things—wind, computer strain, or even just being tired. Whatever the case, your eyes may become itchy, have a burning sensation, and more or less, feel like they’ve been out in the Sahara with no relief. Dry eye drops work by lubricating the eye, adding some much-needed moisture back onto the surface to instantly soothe and refresh. They’re typically a short-term solution, but great when you’re in a pinch. That said, most OTC dry eye drops aren’t designed to work with contact lenses. They can cause your contacts to gum up, which will cloud your vision. The best thing to do when you need to use these eye drops is to remove your lenses first, unless they state specifically for use with contacts. If you find that you’re constantly battling dry eyes with your contacts, remember that there are many different lenses designed specifically to help fight dryness, like Acuvue Oasys or Air Optix Aqua.
Red Eye Drops
Red eye drops (not an official name…) are designed to…TA-DA, get the red out! They’re a great fix for bloodshot eyes, which are caused by enlarged blood vessels in the eyeball. They’re typically due to being tired, allergies, an eye infection, or any other irritant that may be in your eye (if this is the case, wash the object out!). This variety works by helping to shrink your blood vessels back down, therein reducing the redness. Now, for the question you’ve been waiting for: can you use these eye drops with contact lenses? Unfortunately, just like with dry eye drops, most of these aren’t intended for use with your lenses. In fact, they may even ruin them by forming deposits on the surface of the material. If you need to use drops to reduce redness, you’ll have to again first remove your contacts before applying.
Contact Lens Drops
Last up: contact lens drops! We know you’re smart enough to figure this one out on your own but we’ll say it anyway—they’re made to be used with lenses (finally!), so you don’t need to worry about removal before using these products. They’ll say it right on the package and are usually stored alongside contact lens products in your pharmacy. They’re also sometimes referred to as re-wetting drops. That’s because they’re designed to lubricate your eye, which not only feels great, but will make your peepers looked refreshed and plump again. This variety can help make your lenses much more comfortable throughout the day while also helping to clean out teeny bits of dust and debris that may get stuck in your eye (happens to the best of us!).
Overall, when looking for eye drops that you can use with your lenses, always make sure the product specifies for use with contacts. It may not seem like a big deal, but remember they can actually ruin your main means of vision correction, which could put you in an even worse predicament than dry or red eyes. And if you find your constantly battling eye irritation with your contacts, consider checking out a pair of lenses designed for sensitive or dry eyes—you might find those more comfortable.