Last updated: August 12, 2021

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Welcome to our big eye drop test 2021. Here we present all the eye drops we have tested in detail. We have compiled detailed background information and added a summary of customer reviews on the internet.

We would like to make your purchase decision easier and help you find the best eye drops for you. You will also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. If available, we also offer interesting test videos. Furthermore, you will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy eye drops.

Contents




The most important

  • Eye drops are medicines that are dripped directly into the eye. They have different active ingredients and work locally.
  • Eye drops are available in vials or in individual plastic ampoules, also called ophtioles.
  • Eye drops can counteract various eye complaints such as dry or itchy eyes. Eye diseases such as conjunctivitis or glaucoma can also be treated with eye drops.

The Best Eye drops: Our Picks

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying eye drops

What are eye drops?

Eye drops are medicines in liquid form that are dropped directly into the eye, either onto the cornea or into the conjunctival sac. Eye drops are used to treat a number of eye conditions.

Eye drops bring relief. Whether you have burning, itchy or scratchy eyes, eye drops can relieve these symptoms. (Image source: 123rf.com / 68983734)

Eye drops are available with different active ingredients. Eye drops have either a watery or oily consistency. The viscosity of eye drops can also differ.

They can be either prescription or over-the-counter. So it is important to be well informed and ideally talk to a doctor or pharmacist before taking eye drops.

For example, eye drops can be used to treat the following:

  • Tired, dry, itchy, red eyes
  • Conjunctivitis and other infections
  • Cataracts and other opacities of the eye
  • Contact lens wear problems
  • Treatment after operations
  • And much more

Who are eye drops suitable for?

Eye drops are basically suitable for anyone who has eye problems and wants to treat them with the help of medication.

Eye drops are dripped directly into the eye, which requires a certain amount of skill.

Many people are - understandably - very sensitive when it comes to their eyes. The eyes are a sensitive organ that we want to protect.

The idea of getting something in the eye can put many off or make it impossible to take. So, especially the first time, it takes some effort to take eye drops.

Older people or people with motor impairments may also fail to take eye drops.

So it makes sense to ask a second person for help to avoid possible injuries or wrong dosage.

How do eye drops work?

Eye drops have a number of active ingredients. These are specifically designed for certain diseases or symptoms.
You will only get the best effect if you take them regularly.

Many eye drops work immediately. As a rule, you will only achieve an optimal effect if you take eye drops regularly.

Eye drops and their special active ingredients can alleviate the symptoms of a disease or treat the cause.

Allergy

In a double-blind allergen provocation study, 67 people with proven allergy received epinastine eye drops in one eye.

On both occasions, the epinastine eye drops prevented eye burning, hyperaemia and other symptoms between 3 and 20 minutes after provocation.(1)

Dry eyes

The study involved 47 patients with very dry eyes. They had to administer the eye drops(DNase) to themselves four times a day for 8 weeks.

It was concluded that the treatment of dry eye patients with DNase eye drops is safe and tolerable and has the potential to reduce serious signs and symptoms.(2)

Are eye drops suitable for allergy sufferers?

That depends on the allergy as well as the specific eye drops. Eye drops vary so much in their ingredients and active ingredients that no general statement can be made.

Eye drops can trigger an allergy.

Eye drops are often used to treat allergy symptoms such as itchy, irritated eyes or conjunctivitis. We will go into more detail about this in another section of the guide.

But eye drops themselves can also contain allergenic ingredients and trigger an allergy.

There are extra eye drops for allergy sufferers.

If you are allergic to certain ingredients, you should consult a doctor or pharmacist before using any eye drops.

There are eye drops for allergy sufferers. Anti-allergenic eye drops have a warning on their packaging or on the package insert.

Are eye drops or eye spray better for me?

It is not easy to say which is better. The big difference lies in the application.

If eye drops are difficult or uncomfortable for you to take, eye sprays can be an alternative.

Eye sprays are sprayed onto the closed eyelid. When you open your eye and blink, the liquid enters the eye.

It is important to note that eye sprays are often only suitable as "artificial tears" for treating dry or red eyes.

As they are very difficult to dose, they are not designed for the treatment of diseases.

Compared to eye drops, eye sprays are not very common. So the general choice of eye sprays is rather limited.

What are the side effects and interactions of eye drops?

Eye drops, like all medicines, can cause side effects. Side effects are possible, but do not occur in everyone.

Eye drops can also interact with other medicines. If you are taking medication, you should check with a doctor before using eye drops.

In the following table, we have summarised general information about side effects and interactions:

Side effects

Typical side effects include medication residue, taste disturbance or eye redness. Rarely, swelling, irritation and eye pain may occur.

Side effects can vary depending on the active substance and the product. The exact side effects are described on the package leaflet. Your doctor or pharmacist can also give you more information.

Interactions

Eye drops do not usually interact with other medicines because they are only intended to be taken locally through the eye.

If you are using several different eye drops, you should check with your doctor. Eye drops can enter the nasopharynx through the inner corner of the eye if taken incorrectly.

There they can pass through the mucous membranes into the rest of the body and have undesirable effects. These include, for example, palpitations and breathing difficulties.

If you are concerned about possible side effects or interactions, be sure to consult a doctor or pharmacist.

More detailed information on side effects and interactions is also provided on the package leaflet.

Taking the drops correctly and consulting a doctor are very important to avoid negative side effects and interactions.

Are there eye drops available without a prescription?

Yes, there are eye drops available without a prescription. They are available in drugstores, pharmacies, sometimes in discounters, and online.

Over-the-counter eye drops are usually "artificial tears" and are designed to treat dry, itchy, red eyes.

Their job is to moisturise the eye and relieve irritation. They are especially good for contact lens wearers and are easy to purchase.

Eye drops for the treatment of eye diseases, on the other hand, often require a prescription. A visit to the doctor is therefore a prerequisite.

Which eye drops should I use for dry eyes?

Eye drops with moisturising ingredients are suitable for dry eyes. They are also called "artificial tears" and are similar to natural tears.

Eye drops with hyaluron are particularly effective. Eye drops without preservatives and phosphates are also well tolerated by sensitive eyes. (3) If you constantly suffer from dry eyes and external factors such as dry heating air can be ruled out, this could indicate a disease. A visit to the doctor may be a good idea to find out the possible causes.

Which eye drops should I use for glaucoma?

Glaucoma can be treated with eye drops that lower intraocular pressure. There are a number of eye drops available for this purpose.

Eye drops with beta-blockers, prostaglandins, cholinergics, alpha-agonists and other active ingredients are used for treatment. Which medication is ultimately suitable depends on many factors.

The treatment must be administered several times a day and over a longer period of time. It is also important that this treatment is supported and monitored by a doctor.

Which eye drops should I use for allergies?

Eye drops can be a remedy for allergy symptoms. Especially hay fever or other pollen allergies can be relieved with eye drops.

There are special over-the-counter eye drops to relieve allergy symptoms. Antihistamine agents such as levocabastine or azelastine are often added to eye drops

To prevent additional irritation of the eye, particularly mild eye drops that are free of phosphates and preservatives should be chosen.

Which eye drops should I use for conjunctivitis?

Which eye drops are suitable for treating conjunctivitis depends on the cause of the inflammation.

Conjunctivitis can be caused by bacteria or viruses. Allergies can also trigger conjunctivitis.

In the following table, we summarise the causes as well as the treatment options:

Bacterial infection Viral infection Allergies
Conjunctivitis is treated with antibiotic eye drops Conjunctivitis cannot be treated directly. Eye drops with mucous membrane decongestant and disinfectant effects alleviate the symptoms conjunctivitis improves when the irritant is removed. Anti-allergic eye drops can relieve the symptoms.

There are a number of different eye drops that are specifically designed to treat conjunctivitis.

Which ones are right for you depends on the cause of the conjunctivitis and your needs.

Which eye drops should I use for children?

There is usually no difference between eye drops for adults and children. What needs to be considered is the dosage and frequency of use.

Many parents have difficulty administering eye drops to young children. Toddlers do not understand what is going on. They struggle, fidget, squeeze their eyes shut or may even start screaming.

What are the alternatives to eye drops?

There are a few possible alternatives to eye drops. Whether an alternative is suitable for you depends on your needs.

In the following table, we present the possible alternatives.

Alternative Description
Eye spray Eye sprays are sprayed onto the closed eyelid. When the eyelid is blinked, the oily liquid enters the eye and is distributed there. Many people find this method more comfortable. Eye sprays are only available for the treatment of dry eyes. There are no eye sprays for the treatment of eye diseases. Eye sprays are not widely available and the choice is rather limited.
Eye bath In an eye bath, the eyes are moistened with a saline solution similar to tears in a special small tub. The treatment is rather cumbersome, but is particularly effective for irritated, dry eyes.
Eye ointment Eye ointments are medicines with a thick consistency and therefore stay in the eye longer. They are often used together with eye drops. Like eye drops, they are applied directly to the eye. The ointment is spread into the conjunctival sac. They work particularly well overnight and can be used to treat a wide range of complaints and diseases.
Oral medicines Some eye diseases can also be treated with medicines that are not taken as eye drops or ointments. The advantage of eye drops, however, is that they work locally, whereas other medicines that are swallowed, for example, do not have such a direct effect. If you have a lot of problems taking eye drops, you should discuss this with your doctor.

Decision: What types of eye drops are there and which one is right for you?

There is a wide range of eye drops with a variety of active ingredients to treat a range of ailments and diseases. The choice is very individual and difficult to generalise.

However, once you have found the eye drops to treat your symptoms and want to buy them, you usually have two options:

  • Eye drops in vials
  • Eye drops in disposable ampoule (ophtiole)

The difference, then, is in the packaging. It's minor at first, but it has a big impact. Most eye drops come in these forms and you should think carefully about which one is right for you.

To help you choose, we present both types of packaging and their advantages and disadvantages in the following chapter.

What are the characteristics of eye drops in vials and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

The packaging is a vial made of soft material that can be squeezed. The medicine can therefore be dripped directly from the packaging into the eye.

Advantages
  • Inexpensive
  • Large product selection as standard packaging
  • Compact packaging,Little waste
Disadvantages
  • Contains preservatives, Cannot be used with contact lenses
  • More uncomfortable to take
  • Short expiry date

Eye drops in vials are especially suitable for those who take eye drops regularly.

What distinguishes eye drops in ophtioles and what are their advantages and disadvantages?

Ophtiols are small plastic vials similar to capsules or ampoules. They are broken open and dropped into the eye.

Advantages
  • Individually packaged dosage
  • Easier to take because of small packaging
  • No preservatives
Disadvantages
  • More expensive
  • Small capsules can get lost
  • Multi-part packaging creates more waste

Eye drop ophtioles are available in different sets, for example as a pack of 12, 20 or 30. Ophtioles are particularly suitable for those who want to take eye drops occasionally.

Buying criteria: These are the factors you can use to compare and evaluate eye drops

In the following, we will show you which aspects you can use to decide between eye drops.

The criteria you can use to compare eye drops include:

  • Treatment
  • Active ingredients
  • Side effects and interactions
  • Handling
  • Availability
  • Shelf life

In the following paragraphs, we will explain what is important in each criterion to help you make your buying decision.

Treatment

If you are thinking about taking eye drops, you will most likely want to treat eye complaints. There are eye drops for different conditions.Eye drops are available over the counter as artificial tears to treat red, dry or tired eyes, especially for contact lens wearers.

You have a wide choice of different brands and products, and you should get specific information about them. Doctors or pharmacists are usually available to advise you. If your doctor has told you to take special eye drops to treat certain eye conditions, you don't have much leeway.

You should follow your doctor's prescription and get the right drops at the pharmacy.

Active ingredients

Eye drops have different active ingredients depending on the treatment they are designed to treat. Some eye drops contain antibiotics.

The most typical active ingredients include hyaluronic acid, hypromellose, dexpanthenol, vitamins A and E.

Which active ingredient and therefore which eye drops are suitable for you depends on your individual symptoms.

Allergy sufferers should be careful with eye drops to avoid possible reactions. Allergy information can usually be found on the product packaging. Doctors and pharmacists can also advise you on this if you have any concerns.

Side effects and interactions

Like all medicines, eye drops can have side effects and interact with other medicines. We have already gone into this topic in more detail in our guide. Especially if you have already had side effects from eye drops or are taking other medicines, you should be careful when choosing eye drops.

It makes sense to consult a doctor or pharmacist to avoid harming your body. If you suffer from allergies, you should also be well informed about the products. The package leaflet describes possible allergic reactions and lists all substances contained.

Handling

Taking eye drops can be difficult for many people for a variety of reasons. In general, eye drops are very similar in principle. The medicine is dripped directly from the bottle or ophtiole (small ampoule) into the eye. Single ampoules often enlighten the intake, as they are smaller and it is easier for many to bring such an object close to the eye. At the same time, handling the small and delicate ampoule can be a difficulty.

Taking eye drops is generally not considered accessible. Children, people with motor impairments and older people should therefore rather ask a second person for help or switch to another treatment method.

Availability

Non-prescription eye drops can be bought in pharmacies, drugstores and sometimes even in supermarkets. Many eye drops are also available online. Some special preparations have to be pre-ordered at the pharmacy or can only be purchased over the internet. Depending on what eye drops you need, you will be able to buy them from different retailers. It is often easiest to buy eye drops at your local drugstore or pharmacy.

If you need a more specialised product, it is best to order them online. Prescription eye drops prescribed by a doctor should be bought from a pharmacy. It is better to stay away from online suppliers of prescription medicines.

Shelf life

Eye drops last about 4-6 weeks after opening.

Eye drops have a short shelf life despite the addition of preservatives. As a rule, eye drops can only be kept for 4-6 weeks after opening. A few preparations last up to 3 months.

However, this only applies to eye drops in vials, as the entire contents are affected once the packaging is broken open.

Eye drops in ophtioles therefore last longer overall, but the individual opened capsule should be used immediately.

When buying eye drops, you should therefore think carefully about how often you will use them. Eye drops should never be used after their shelf life has expired.

Facts worth knowing about eye drops

How do I take eye drops correctly?

For the best results, it is important to follow the doctor's exact instructions and the package leaflet.

Taking eye drops can be a little tricky. We have put together a briefing for you to explain it as simply as possible.

  1. Wash your hands: Wash your hands to prevent dirt or germs from getting into your eye.
  2. Take out old contact lenses: Take out the contact lenses. You should go without contact lenses for at least 15 minutes after taking them.
  3. Tilt your head back: Tilt your head back.
  4. Pull your eyelid down: Gently pull your lower eyelid down and direct your gaze upwards.
  5. Use eye drops: Hold the bottle close above your eye, but do not touch it. Drop the liquid onto the lower edge of your eye.
  6. Close your eyes: Release the lid and close your eye without squeezing it shut. Press the inner corner of the eye so that the drops do not flow into the nasopharynx. Keep your eyes closed for 1-3 minutes. Follow the instructions on the package leaflet.

What do I have to keep in mind when taking eye drops?

There are a few important things to remember when taking eye drops:

  • Eye drops can run out of the eye if they are not taken properly. This can reduce their effectiveness. It is therefore very important to be as precise as possible when taking the eye drops and to follow the instructions carefully.
  • Eye drops can flow into the nasopharynx if taken incorrectly, where they can be passed through mucous membranes into the rest of the body.
    There they can trigger unwanted side effects or react with other medicines. It is therefore important to close the eye properly after taking the drops and to squeeze the inner corner of the eye.
  • Contact lenses should be removed before taking eye drops. They can be put back in after 15 minutes at the earliest.
  • However, some eye drops, especially artificial tears, can be used with contact lenses in the eye without any problems or are even specially designed for this purpose. Follow the product instructions.
  • If you are taking more than one eye drop, you should wait 10 minutes between each medicine. Your doctor can give you more information on the correct order and use of the medicines.
  • Eye drops usually have a relatively short shelf life. Most last about 6 weeks after opening. Expired eye drops should never be used.

How long do eye drops last?

Eye drops have a relatively short shelf life. Once opened, most eye drops only last 4-6 weeks. However, there are also preparations that can be kept for up to 3 months. You can find the exact shelf life on the package insert or on the packaging.

Once the drops have been opened, they should be stored in a dry place at room temperature and always closed tightly. Eye drops should not be used after the expiry date.

What are the causes of dry eyes?

Many people suffer from dry eyes. This complaint can be caused by many factors. However, they attribute it to the following causes:

  • Insufficient tear fluid
  • Changed composition of the tear fluid
  • Decreased blinking

The most common reason for dry eyes is contact lenses, heating air and looking at the screen for long periods of time. Switching to other contact lenses or glasses can provide relief.

In the office, a humidifier is useful, and breaks and relaxation exercises can help with dry and tired eyes.

Staring at the monitor for a long time can tire and dry out our eyes. Taking breaks and doing relaxation exercises can help our eyes. (Image source: pixabay.com / fancycrave1)

Fluctuation in tear production throughout the day is normal. Diseases, medications, hormonal fluctuations, diet and many other factors can affect tear production and composition.

To help prevent these factors, we have summarised some information for you in the linked article. Here you can find tips and tricks for a healthier life.

Eye drops as artificial tears are a good first aid for dry eyes. However, if you suffer from dry eyes frequently and over a long period of time, you should see a doctor about this complaint.

This is especially important if you can rule out causes such as working at a monitor for a long time or dry office air.

Are there eye drops for the treatment of cataracts?

Cataracts are the most common cause of blindness worldwide. In this disease, the lens becomes cloudy and vision decreases. This can be age-related and occurs in both humans and animals.

The standard treatment is surgery. The clouded lens is surgically replaced. However, this procedure is expensive, time-consuming and can lead to complications.

However, researchers have been able to successfully reverse the clouding of the lens with the active ingredient lanosterol. Eye drops with lanosterol could therefore replace surgery in the future and improve the lives of many people around the world.

(Image source: 123rf.com / 111118245)

References (3)

1. Abelson MB, Gomes P, Crampton HJ, Schiffman RM, Bradford RR, Whitcup SM. Efficacy and tolerability of ophthalmic epinastine assessed using the conjunctival antigen challenge model in patients with a history of allergic conjunctivitis. Clin Ther. 2004 Jan;26(1):35-47.
Source

2. Mun C, Gulati S, Tibrewal S, Chen YF, An S et al. A Phase I/II Placebo-Controlled Randomized Pilot Clinical Trial of Recombinant Deoxyribonuclease (DNase) Eye Drops Use in Patients With Dry Eye Disease. Translational Vision Science & Technology. 2019 May; Vol.8, 10.
Source

3. Karaca EE, Özek D, Evren Kemer Ö. Comparison study of two different topical lubricants on tear meniscus and tear osmolarity in dry eye. Cont Lens Anterior Eye. 2019 Oct 12. pii: S1367-0484(19)30218-8.
Source

Why you can trust me?

Wissenschaftliche Studie
Abelson MB, Gomes P, Crampton HJ, Schiffman RM, Bradford RR, Whitcup SM. Efficacy and tolerability of ophthalmic epinastine assessed using the conjunctival antigen challenge model in patients with a history of allergic conjunctivitis. Clin Ther. 2004 Jan;26(1):35-47.
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Mun C, Gulati S, Tibrewal S, Chen YF, An S et al. A Phase I/II Placebo-Controlled Randomized Pilot Clinical Trial of Recombinant Deoxyribonuclease (DNase) Eye Drops Use in Patients With Dry Eye Disease. Translational Vision Science & Technology. 2019 May; Vol.8, 10.
Go to source
Wissenschaftliche Studie
Karaca EE, Özek D, Evren Kemer Ö. Comparison study of two different topical lubricants on tear meniscus and tear osmolarity in dry eye. Cont Lens Anterior Eye. 2019 Oct 12. pii: S1367-0484(19)30218-8.
Go to source
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