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Dust, pollen, allergens, ozone, mascara, and dry indoor air are just a few of the things that can irritate eyes. Drops can help, but which kind is right for you? Lee Duffner, MD, an ophthalmologist in private practice in Hollywood, Florida, says the key is to identify your problem, as eyedrops are designed to relieve specific symptoms. (Although contact lens wearers can safely use most over-the-counter drops, they should consult their ophthalmologists if they experience persistent eye irritation.) Here, Dr. Duffner's advice on how to choose the right product for your red, itchy or dry eyes.
Symptoms: Red, bloodshot eyes
Go with: An eye whitener such as Clear Eyes Redness Relief Eye Drops
How it works: By constricting the blood vessels in the eyes so they look less red
Bonus Tip: Don't use more than twice a day or you may get "rebound redness" -- eyes that are redder than ever.
Symptoms: Itchy, watery eyes
Go with: An allergy-relief eyedrop such as Visine-A or Naphcon-A
How it works: Antihistamines relieve itching; some drops also contain whiteners
Bonus Tip: These are safe to use as often as the label specifies and for as long as allergies persist.
Symptoms: Eyes that feel dry, or like there's grit stuck in them
Go with: A lubricant or "artificial tears" such as Systane Lubricant Eye Drops
How it works: By mimicking your natural tears
Bonus Tip: If a drop isn't helping, try one with a different active ingredient, which may work better.
Originally published in FITNESS magazine, September 2006.