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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

 

References

 

  1. NHS England, ‘Dry Eyes’, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dry-eyes/, Accessed Jan 2022.
  2. Wimpole Eye Clinic. ‘Why Are My Eyes So Scratchy and Dry’, https://wimpoleeyeclinic.com/the-human-eyes-explained/why-are-my-eyes-so-scratchy-and-dry/
  3. Valencia Higuera and Erika Klein, ‘Chronic Dry Eye Causes and How to Treat Them’, Healthline, https://www.healthline.com/health/chronic-dry-eye/causes-how-to-treat, Accessed Feb 2020.
  4. Godman, Heibi, ‘Eye Drops For Dry Eyes’, Healthline, https://www.healthline.com/health/great-eye-drops-dry-eyes
  5. Veazey, Karen,’What to know about dry eye gel drops and what conditions they treat’, Medical News Today, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/dry-eye-gel-drops#conditions-gel-drops-treat
  6. Robertson, Danielle, ‘Severe dry eye: Advanced solutions to a common, chronic condition’, UT SouthWestern Medical Centre, https://utswmed.org/medblog/dry-eye-treatment-clinic/
  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.
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6 Causes of Dry Eye

Dry Eye Syndrome is a chronic condition, with varying degrees of severity. It can have multiple causes which can overlap with each other. 1

 

Dry Eye can also co-exist, or be caused by other related conditions such as Meibomian Gland Disorder (MGD) and Blepharitis.

 

There are some very common causes or triggers of Dry Eye that affect lots of people, and some less common causes, like pre-existing conditions and specific medication that can cause irritating symptoms for a minority of people. 

 

1. Age/ Menopause 

 

One of the most common causes of Dry Eye Syndrome is age, especially if you are a woman. Dry Eye affects approximately 5-30% of the elderly population, with menopause increasing the likelihood of developing symptoms.2

 

As we age, our cells experience more oxidative stress, and the lacrimal gland that produces our tears deteriorates the older we get.3 In Menopause especially, decressed production of androgens (sex hormones) in women further affects tear production.4

 

2. Lifestyle 

 

Lifestyle, diet, and environment can really trigger Dry Eye Disease. Dry eyes can be caused by things like heating and air conditioning systems, as well as the outdoor environment e.g. windy, cold, dry or dusty weather conditions.5 Smoking and drinking alcohol can also cause Dry Eye, or can make existing symptoms much worse.6 

 

On the other hand, eating certain foods, living a generally healthy lifestyle, and reducing screen time can help reduce symptoms.7

3. Medication 

 

Certain medications can cause Dry Eye, or make it worse. These include: 

 

  • Acne medication
  • Antidepressants
  • Parkison’s medications
  • Sleeping Pills
  • Antihistamines
  • Birth Control and other hormone treatment
  • Blood pressure medication.8

 

Screen Use 

 

When we stare at computers, mobiles, or any other digital screens, our blink rate slows, drying out our eyes. 9

 

This is called Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) and affects people of all ages.10 It can, combined with other Dry Eye triggers, make existing conditions much worse. Top tips to prevent CVS include reducing screen time and following the 20:20:20 rule.11

Pre-Existing Conditions 

 

Dry Eye can also be a symptom of other, pre-existing conditions, like:

 

  • Sjogren’s Syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis 
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Lagophthalmos.12

 

 

Contact Lenses

 

Contact lenses can aggravate Dry Eye because the presence of the lens on the cornea limits oxygen flow into the eye, and oxygen is necessary to develop natural tears.13

 

However, there are some top tips to manage wearing contacts if your eyes feel itchy and dry. 

 

There are many different causes of Dry Eye, but there are also many different treatments for Dry Eye!  If you think you are suffering visit a GP, or explore this guide to which Dry Eye Treatment might be best for you.

 

Discover 6 Lifestyle Changes to Get Rid of Dry Eye

 

References

 

  1. Valencia Higuera and Erika Klein, ‘Chronic Dry Eye Causes and How to Treat Them’, Healthline, https://www.healthline.com/health/chronic-dry-eye/causes-how-to-treat, Accessed Feb 2020.
  2. Anushree Sharma, Holly B. Hindman, ‘Aging: A Predisposition to Dry Eyes’, J Ophthalmol, 2014; 2014: 781683.
  3. Cintia S. de Paiva, ‘Effects of Aging in Dry Eye’, Int Ophthalmol Clin., 2017 Spring; 57(2): 47–64.
  4. Corinne O’Keefe Osborn, ‘Menopause and Dry Eyes: What’s the Link? https://www.healthline.com/health/menopause/menopause-and-dry-eyes. Accessed Feb 2022
  5. Monica Alves, Priscila Novaes, Monica de Andrade Morraye, Peter Sol Reinach, Eduardo Melani Rocha, ‘Is Dry Eye an Environmental Disease?’, Arq Bras Oftalmol, May-Jun 2014;77(3):193-200.
  6. Griffin, Morgan. ‘Smoking and Dry Eye’, https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/smoking-dry-eyes, Accessed Feb 2022.
  7. Dry Eye and Me, ‘6 Lifestyle Tips to Get Rid of Dry Eye,’ https://www.dryeyeandme.co.uk/6-lifestyle-tips-to-get-rid-of-dry-eye/ Accessed Feb 2022.
  8. ‘Is Your Medication Causing Dry Eye?’, WedMD, 
  9. Wheeler, Regina Boyle. ‘Dry Eye and Screen Use’, WebMD, 21/06/21, Accessed Oct 2021: https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/dry-eye-screen-use
  10. Stephanie Watson, ‘Computer Vision Syndrome’, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/computer-vision-syndrome, Accessed Feb 2022.
  11. Marcin, Ashley , ‘How Does the 20-20-20 Rule Prevent Eye Strain?’ Healthline https://www.healthline.com/health/eye-health/20-20-20-rule#:~:text=The%2020%2D20%2D20%20rule%20can%20help%20your%20eyes%20refocus,your%20eyes%20for%2015%20minutes 
  12. ‘Causes’, Not a Dry Eye Foundation, https://www.notadryeye.org/all-about-dry-eye-syndrome/causes-of-dry-eye-syndrome-and-related-diseases/, Accessed Feb 2022.
  13. Specsavers, ‘Your Guide to Wearing Contact Lenses for Dry Eyes’, Accessed Sep 2021:.https://www.specsavers.co.uk/contact-lenses/eye-conditions-symptoms/contact-lenses-for-dry-eyes
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How to Find Your Perfect Eye Drop

Eye drops can be used to treat various eye problems, and they come in many different shapes and sizes. For example, you might receive prescription eye drops from your doctor to treat an infection, or if you are suffering from dry, itchy eyes, you might look for an over the counter eye drop to ease your symptoms. 1

 

What is Dry Eye Syndrome? 

 

If your eyes are itchy, streaming or irritated, you might be suffering from Dry Eye Syndrome. This condition can be caused by many factors, including if you are over 50 or going through menopause, side effects of certain drugs, related conditions, or even lifestyle choices like smoking or drinking alcohol.2

 

How can eye drops help? 

 

Lubricating eye drops are the most common treatment of Dry Eye, to ease irritating symptoms. 3

 

However, there are many types of eye drops, and different eye drops work for different people. It depends on the causes, severity and symptoms of your Dry Eye as to which eye drop you should be using.

 

This blog explores some of the main types of eye drops you can use, to help you identify your perfect eye drop.

 

What are artificial tears?

 

Artificial tears are eye drops used to lubricate dry eyes and help maintain moisture on the outer surface of your eyes. 4 Artificial tears are available over the counter, and there are many different types. Xalin ® tears, for example, are designed to moisturise the eye and alleviate redness, irritation and eye fatigue associated with Dry Eye Syndrome. 5 

 

What is the difference between preservative and preservative-free eye drops? 

 

Some eye drops contain a preserving ingredient called benzalkonium chloride (BAK) to keep the drops sterile, and some don’t. 6 If you suffer from Dry Eye and use eye drops on a regular basis, it’s best to consider a preservative-free eye drop, as the alternative can harm the cells in your eyes over time and even lead to your symptoms getting worse. 7

 

What are gel drops?

 

Gel eye drops are a type of lubricating eye drop. They are a liquid that turns into a gel as soon as it touches the surface of the eye, so are thicker than ordinary liquid eye drops.8 Gel drops like VisuXL ® Gel can be ideal for treating more severe Dry Eye, and for relieving symptoms at night. 9

 

How should I use eye drops? 

 

Eye drops can be used as the last phase of a three-step treatment plan, to effectively manage chronic Dry Eye Syndrome. 

 

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

 

Step 2: Cleanse and wipe away the melted oil blocking your glands, as well as any built up debris with a cleanser like Naviblef ® , that is specially designed to reduce discomfort. 10

 

Step 3: Incorporate an eye drop from the VISUfamily range into your daily routine, to effectively manage your symptoms over time. 

In most cases, the best way to treat dry eyes, Also known as dry eye syndrome, is to use eye gel or eye drops.

VisuXL Gel® is a preservative-free smart gel lubricant for dry eye syndrome. It provides comfort in a bottle with it’s long-lasting lubrication properties giving 12-hour dosing with just one drop and is suitable for both day and night use.

VisuXL® is a preservative-free eye drop lubricant for dry eye syndrome. Due to its unique ingredients, VisuXL® will help you recover from eye surgery, an injury or persistent damaging dry eye.

VisuEvo® is a preservative-free eye drop that prevents excessive evaporation of the tear film. Its unique formula contains omega-3 essential fatty acids, Vitamins A and D and ultra-filtered phospholipids that facilitate tear film presentation and control evaporation.

All three products are contact lens-friendly and can be used for 180 days after opening.

 

There are many different eye drops on the market, so it is ultimately best to consult your GP before starting any treatment plan, especially if your condition is serious.

 

For more advice about choosing Dry Eye treatments, click here.

 

To see which eye drops can be used with contact lenses, click here.

 

References:

  1. University of Illinois, ‘How to Use Eye Drops’, Healthline, https://www.healthline.com/health/general-use/how-to-use-eye-drops Accessed Jan 2022.
  2. NHS England, ‘Dry Eyes’, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dry-eyes/, Accessed Jan 2022. 
  3. ‘What Causes Dry Eyes, WebMD, https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/eye-health-dry-eyes
  4. Alaina, L. ‘Artificial Tears: How to Select Eye Drops for Dry Eyes’, Mayo Clinic, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-eyes/expert-answers/artificial-tears/faq-20058422 Accessed Jan 2022.
  5. Xalin Tears Instrunctions for Use (IFU)
  6. Waton, Kathryn. ‘What to Know About Preservative-Free Eye Drops, Plus Products to Consider’, Heathline, 20/11/19, Accessed Oct 2021: https://www.healthline.com/health/preservative-free-eye-drops
  7. Malik Y. Kahook, MD,and Aurora, Colo, ‘The Pros and Cons of Preservatives’, Review of Opthamology, 15/04/15. 
  8. Dresden, Danielle, ‘Some of the Best Gel Eye Drops for Dry Eyes for 2022’, Medical News Today, 13/10/21, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/best-gel-eye-drops, Accessed Jan 2022.
  9. Ranieri, Miranda, MD, ‘Eye Drops vs. Gel vs. Ointment: What’s the Difference?’, Queensway Optometric Centre, 11/08/11, https://queenswayoptometric.com/eye-drops-vs-gel-vs-ointment-whats-the-difference/ Accessed Jan 2022.
  10. Navibelf Instructins For Use (IFU)
  11. VisuXL 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.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Dry Eye

Despite how many people it affects, there is little awareness about Dry Eye Syndrome, which can also be called Dry Eye Disease. This results in lots of frequently asked questions about the symptoms, causes and treatments of Dry Eye. 

 

In this blog, our Dry Eye expert answers the most frequently searched questions about Dry Eye, with the aim of helping people who are unaware of the condition, and those who are already diagnosed with chronic Dry Eye Disease.

 

What is Dry Eye? 

 

Dry Eye Syndrome is a common eye condition that causes the surface of the eye to become dry and irritated. It affects one in four people in the UK and can be caused by a number of lifestyle factors. 1

 

There are two main types of Dry Eye: Aqueous Tear Deficient Dry Eye when the lacrimal glands in your eyes don’t make enough tears, and Evaporative Dry Eye when your tears dry up too quickly.2

 

What are the symptoms of Dry Eye?

 

There are many different symptoms of Dry Eye, and it can be linked to other conditions like Blepharitis, and Meibomian Gland Dysfunction

 

The most commonly experienced symptoms of Dry Eye include

 

Eyes that feel…

 

Itchy

Burning

Achey

Heavy

Sore

Gritty or sandy

Red

Blurry

Fatigued

Sensitive to light

More watery than normal.

 

If you have any of these symptoms you might be suffering from Dry Eye Syndrome.3 They could also be signs of another condition, so it is also important to consult your GP before seeking any treatment.

 

What causes Dry Eye?

 

There are many different causes of Dry Eye, and factors that can make a person more likely to experience the condition. The main trigger of Dry Eye Syndrome is a lack of sufficient lubricating tears – meaning the surface of the eye becomes dry and irritated.4

 

Tears can be inadequate or unstable for many reasons, including old age, menopause, prolonged screen use, increased exposure to dry hot or cold air and certain medications.5  Dry Eye Syndrome can, more often than not, be caused by more than one of these factors.

 

Can Dry Eye cause blurry vision?

 

Blurry vision is a symptom associated with Dry Eye Syndrome. Dry Eye that is left untreated can even lead to more serious sight problems. Mostly blurry vision problems can be helped by using eye drops and other effective dry eye treatments, but they can also be related to other conditions like Lupus and Sjogren’s syndrome, so if in doubt consult your GP before seeking treatment. 6

 

Blurry vision can be made worse by frequently staring at screens. Click here to read more tips on how to manage Dry Eye and screen time.

 

What does Dry Eye feel like?

 

Dry Eye has many different possible symptoms, so can feel different for everyone.7 Many Dry Eye sufferers say that their eyes feel itchy or scratchy, are constantly streaming and feel like there is something stuck in them. Whatever the different symptoms, most patients say that their eyes don’t feel ‘normal’.

 

Can you cure Dry Eye?

 

Depending on the severity of the Dry Eye, it might cease to be a problem with effective treatment, or might recur throughout someone’s life. There is no current cure for chronic Dry Eye, but there are many treatment options and lifestyle changes that can be made to ease symptoms and maintain a great quality of life. 8

 

The backbone of effectively managing Dry Eye is a 3-step treatment plan. 

 

Step 1: Apply a heated compress, such as Meibopatch, to unblock your tear glands and relieve your eyes.9 

 

Step 2: Is to cleanse any debris that has built up in your eyes, with a cleanser like Naviblef, that is specially designed to reduce discomfort.10 

 

Step 3: Is to incorporate an effective eye drop like VisuXL Gel into your daily routine.With 12hr protection with just one drop morning and night, your eyes will feel a great sense of relief. 11 12

 

VisuXL

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VisuEVO

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If you’re looking for more support and resources about Dry Eye, make sure to follow us on social media!

 

Discover which Dry Eye treatment is best for your condition

 

Having trouble sleeping with Dry Eye? 

 

 

References: 

  1. NHS UK, https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/dry-eyes/, Accessed Nov 2021.
  2. Ellis, Reiff Rachel. ‘Types of Dry Eye’, WebMD, 21/06/21, Accessed Oct 2021: https://www.webmd.com/eye-health/dry-eye-types
  3. Mayo Clinic, ‘Dry Eyes’ https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dry-eyes/symptoms-causes/syc-20371863 Accessed Nov 2021.
  4. Brazier, Yvette, ‘What is Dry Eye and How Can I Get Rid of It?’, Medical News Today, 11th Jan 2018, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/170743 Accessed Nov 2021.
  5. Not a Dry Eye Foundation, ‘Causes’, https://www.notadryeye.org/all-about-dry-eye-syndrome/causes-of-dry-eye-syndrome-and-related-diseases/ Accessed Nov 2021.
  6. Watson, Kathryn, ‘What Causes Dry Eyes and Blurry Vision’, Healthline, 21st August 2020, https://www.healthline.com/health/what-causes-dry-eyes-and-blurry-vision Accessed Nov 2021.
  7. Dry Eye Doctor, ‘Dry Eye- FAQ’, https://dryeyedoctor.co.uk/home/dry-eye-faq/ Accessed Nov 2021.
  8. Daniels, Lowri, ‘Can You Permanently Cure Dry Eyes?’, Medical News Today, 25th Feb 2021, https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/how-to-cure-dry-eyes-permanently#is-there-a-cure Accesed Nov 2021.
  9. Meibopatch Instructions for Use (IFU)
  10. Naviblef Instructions for Use (IFU)
  11. VisuXL 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.
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