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 with preservativeBlink TearsPolyethylene glycol / Hyaluronic acidOcupure
Blink ContactsSodium hyaluronateOcupure
GentealHydroxypropyl methylcelluloseSodium Perborate
Liquifilm TearsPolyvinyl alcoholBenzalkonium Chloride
Poly-TearsHypromellose / DextranPolyquad
Refresh OptiveCarboxy methylcellulose Sodium / Glycerin / Erythritol / LevocarnitinePurite
Refresh ContactsCarboxy methylcellulosePurite
Refresh TearsCarboxy methylcellulosePurite
Also Single Use
Polyethylene glycol / Propylene glycol / Hydroxypropyl GuarPolyquad
Systane Ultra
Also Single Use
Polyethylene 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
Liquifilm FortePolyvinyl alcoholBenzalkonium Chloride
Vistil FortePolyvinyl alcoholOXYD
Preservative free dropsBion TearsHydroxypropyl methylcelluloseNone
Blink Tears preservative freePolyethylene glycolNone
Genteal single useHydroxypropyl methylcelluloseNone
Hylo FreshSodium hyaluronate/sorbitolNone
Opti-melLeptosporum sp (Maunka) Honey / Sodium Chloride / Benzoic AcidNone
NovaTearsSodium hyaluronate/sorbitolNone
PolyGelCarboxy methylcelluloseNone
Poly-TearsHypromellose / DextranNone
RefreshPolyvinyl alcohol / povidoneNone
Refresh Celluvisc
Single use
Carboxy methylcelluloseNone
Refresh Plus TearsCarboxy methylcelluloseNone
Systane preservative freePolyethylene glycol / Propylene glycol / Hydroxypropyl GuarNone
Systane Ultra preservative free
(Currently unavailable in NZ)
Polyethylene glycol / Propylene glycol / Hydroxypropyl GuarNone
Genteal GelHydroxypropyl methylcellulose / CarbopolSodium Perborate
Lacrilube preservative-freeParaffinNone
PolyViscParaffin / Wool fatNone
Refresh LacrilubeWhite petrolatum / Mineral oilChlorobutanol
Refresh LiquigelCarboxy methylcellulosePurite
Refresh Night TimeParaffinNone
ViscotearsCarboxy methylcelluloseCetrimide
VitA-POSRetinol palmitate / lanolinNone
Viscotears Gel PFCarboxy methylcelluloseNone
Viscotears Gel PF - Single useCarboxy methylcelluloseNone
MistsClear Eyes Eye MistPolyvinyl alcoholNone
Optrex ActiMistSoy Lecithin / Sodium Chloride / Ethanol / PhenoxythanolNone
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