Dry Eye Treatments

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Most dry eye can be treated medically.

Simple Strategies

There are some simple things you can do to help dry eyes.

  • Avoid conditions that encourage evaporation of the tears such as air conditioning and hot dry heat from heaters and hairdryers
  • Wrap around sunglasses can stop the wind drying your eyes

Artificial Tear Supplements

Many people with dry eyes need to top up their natural tear production with artificial tears. You do not need a prescription to buy or use most artificial tears.

As you can see from the table below, there are many different types of artificial tears. Some artificial tears are very watery, others are very thick. Some drops have preservative, others do not. Some cannot be used by contact lens wearers. Everyone’s eyes are different and it may take a while to find the drop that is right for you.

Using Artificial Tear Drops

The table below contains the name, lubricant and preservative of all the artificial tear drops currently available in New Zealand. The table is designed to help patients take control of their dry eye treatment by making therapy logical.

Start with a ‘thin’ drop. If it doesn’t seem to work, try using it more frequently or try another thin drop with a different preservative. Use the drops regularly. Dry eye treatment often fails because treatment is inadequate.

If you don’t get relief, use a thicker drop. If you develop an allergy (redness, itch etc) try a product with a different preservative or a non-preserved drop. Use preservative-free drops if drops are required more than 6 times a day. Ointments are usually too thick to use during the day. They are best used just before bed to give lasting relief overnight.

The different drops


Thin drops:Aquify Comfort dropsSodium hyaluronateSodium Perborate
 Blink TearsPolyethylene glycol / Hyaluronic acidOcupure
 Blink ContactsSodium hyaluronateOcupure
 GentealHydroxypropyl methylcelluloseSodium Perborate
 PolytearsHypromellose / DextranPolyquad
 Refresh OptiveCarboxy methylcellulose Sodium / Glycerin / Erythritol / LevocarnitinePurite
 Refresh TearsCarboxy methylcellulosePurite
 SystanePolyethylene glycol / Propylene glycol / Hydroxypropyl GuarPolyquad
 Systane UltraPolyethylene glycol / Propylene glycol / Hydroxypropyl GuarPolyquad
 Systane BalancePropylene glycol / Hydroxypropyl Guar / mineral oilPolyquad
 Tears Naturale IIHydroxypropyl methylcellulose / Dextran / GlycerinPolyquad
 VisineHydroxypropyl methylcelluloseBenzalkonium Chloride
 VistilPolyvinyl alcoholOXYD
Thick dropsBlink GelTearsPolyethylene glycolOcupure
 Refresh LiquigelCarboxy methylcellulosePurite
 Vistil FortePolyvinyl alcoholOXYD
Preservative free dropsBion TearsHydroxypropyl methylcelluloseNone
 Blink Tears preservative freePolyethylene glycolNone
 Genteal single useHydroxypropyl methylcelluloseNone
 Polytears freeHypromellose / DextranNone
 RefreshPolyvinyl alcohol / povidoneNone
 Refresh CelluviscCarboxy methylcelluloseNone
 Refresh Plus TearsCarboxy methylcelluloseNone
 Systane preservative freePolyethylene glycol / Propylene glycol / Hydroxypropyl GuarNone
 Systane Ultra preservative freePolyethylene glycol / Propylene glycol / Hydroxypropyl GuarNone
 Thera Tears non preservedCarboxy methylcellulose (hypotonic)None
 Tears Naturale FreeHydroxypropyl methylcellulose / Dextran / GlycerinNone
OintmentGenteal GelHydroxypropyl methylcellulose / CarbopolSodium Perborate
 Lacrilube preservative-freeParaffinNone
 PolyviscParaffin / Wool fatNone
 Refresh NightimeWhite petrolatum / Mineral oilChlorobutanol
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