Eye drops vs eye gel for dry eyes


When it comes to Dry Eye, there are many different treatment options. It’s easy to get confused about which product to go for, or even worse, not be able to find a product that eases your symptoms.


It can sometimes be hard to get adequate information about Dry Eye treatments; that’s why we want to offer expert tips about the difference between eye drops and eye gels. 


What is Dry Eye Disease? 


Dry Eye Disease is a chronic condition where patients suffer from gritty, sore, itchy, or blurry eyes. 1 It affects 1 in 4 people in the UK and can range from moderate to severe. 2 You might need different treatments depending on the nature of your condition. 


Dry Eye often affects people over 50, predominantly women, and can flare up due to other factors like allergies, lifestyle and environment. 3

dry eye drops vs gel


What are eye drops and eye gels?


Eye drops are traditionally the go to treatment for Dry Eye and other related conditions. There are many different types, including preservative or preservative-free, contact lens friendly and standard or cross-linked Hyaluronic Acid (HA) drops. 4


Eye gels, however, are becoming more popular, especially with long-term sufferers of Dry Eye conditions. They can come in drop form and in ointment form, with drop form being the easiest to apply for most patients. 5


eye drops- dry eye

What’s the difference?


Eye gels are usually more viscous, and will stay in your eyes for a longer period of time. Due to the fact that they stay on the surface of the eyes for longer, they are able to provide more long lasting protection against dry, itchy eyes.

How do I know which one to pick? 

The type of treatment you opt will mainly depend on your symptoms and specific conditions. If you are looking for lasting relief, it may be more effective to try a lubricating gel drop like VisXL ® Gel. 6 It transforms from a liquid in the bottle to a gel when it reaches the surface of the eye, and remains in place for a full 12 hours. Therefore, patients only need 1 drop, morning and night, for a full 12 hours of comfort and protection. 7 8 


Before choosing a treatment, you might want to speak to your GP to check that you don’t have a condition associated with Dry Eye, like MGD or Blepharitis, that might need slightly different treatment. 


For anyone suffering from severe dry eyes, it’s a good idea to follow a three step treatment plan.


Step 1: Apply a heated compress, such as MeiboPatch®, to unblock your meibomian glands and relieve your eyes. 9 


Step 2: Cleanse and wipe away the melted oil blocking your glands, as well as any built-up debris with a cleanser like Naviblef®. It is specially designed to reduce discomfort and remove build-up around the lashes caused by Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. 10


 Step 3: Incorporate an effective eye drop like VisuXL® Gel into your daily routine. With 12 hr protection from just one drop morning and night, you can enjoy lasting comfort and without the need to reapply throughout the day. Just one drop each time you brush your teeth is all you’ll need for lasting lubrication.   11 12


Hopefully, this guide has helped you identify the difference between eye drops and gels, and think about a personalised treatment plan that would work for your condition. It’s important to remember that any medication can be combined with lifestyle changes to minimise Dry Eye symptoms even further. 


Follow us on socials @dryeyeandme for tips on symptoms, lifestyle and care! 


Got Dry Eye and wear contacts? See our top tips to minimise symptoms 


Discover 8 foods to eat if you have Dry Eye




  1. NHS England, ‘Dry Eyes’,, Accessed Jan 2022.
  2. Wimpole Eye Clinic. ‘Why Are My Eyes So Scratchy and Dry’,
  3. Valencia Higuera and Erika Klein, ‘Chronic Dry Eye Causes and How to Treat Them’, Healthline,, Accessed Feb 2020.
  4. Godman, Heibi, ‘Eye Drops For Dry Eyes’, Healthline,
  5. Veazey, Karen,’What to know about dry eye gel drops and what conditions they treat’, Medical News Today,
  6. Robertson, Danielle, ‘Severe dry eye: Advanced solutions to a common, chronic condition’, UT SouthWestern Medical Centre,
  7. VisuXL Gel Instructions For Use IFU.
  8. Brancato R, Fiore T, Papucci L, et al. Concomitant Effect of Topical Ubiquinone Q10 and Vitamin E to Prevent Keratocyte Apoptosis After Excimer Laser Photoablation in Rabbits. J Refract Surg 2002; 18: 135-9.
  9. Mebiopatch Instructions For Use (IFU)
  10. Naviblef Instructions For Use (IFU)
  11. VisuXL Gel Instructions For Use IFU.
  12. Brancato R, Fiore T, Papucci L, et al. Concomitant Effect of Topical Ubiquinone Q10 and Vitamin E to Prevent Keratocyte Apoptosis After Excimer Laser Photoablation in Rabbits. J Refract Surg 2002; 18: 135-9.
Back to news