Eye drops are commonly used to alleviate various eye conditions, such as dryness, redness, allergies, and glaucoma. However, misusing or overusing them can have unintended consequences. Our vision therapy specialist at Insight Vision Center Optometry shares more insight.
Risks of Overusing Eye Drops
The following are some of the possible outcomes resulting from eye drops overuse:
- Rebound Redness. Over-the-counter eye drops, especially those containing vasoconstrictors, can provide temporary relief from red eyes by narrowing blood vessels in the eye. But if used excessively, they can lead to rebound redness once the effect wears off. This makes your eyes even redder and more irritated, prompting you to use the drops more frequently.
- Dry Eye Syndrome. Frequent use of eye drops, particularly those with preservatives, can disrupt the natural balance of tears in your eyes. This can lead to dry eye syndrome, a condition characterized by symptoms like burning, stinging, itching, and excessive tearing. Ironically, the very drops you use to relieve dryness can worsen the problem in the long run.
- Allergic Reactions. Some individuals may develop allergic reactions to the preservatives or other ingredients in eye drops when used excessively. Symptoms can include redness, itching, swelling, or other uncomfortable side effects.
- Infection Risks. Failing to observe proper hygiene when applying eye drops or using the eye drop with a contaminated tip can increase the risk of eye infections, especially with overuse. Bacteria can enter the eye, leading to conjunctivitis (pink eye) and other conditions.
Watch out for These Eye Conditions
Most vision therapy specialists and eye doctors advise against overusing eye drops as they can sometimes mask underlying eye conditions. This may prevent you from seeking appropriate medical attention. For example:
- Infections – If you use eye drops to relieve redness and discomfort caused by an eye infection, you may delay seeking treatment for the infection itself. This can cause the infection to worsen.
- Glaucoma – Some individuals use over-the-counter eye drops to self-treat symptoms that may be signs of glaucoma, a potentially sight-threatening condition. Delaying diagnosis and treatment can lead to irreversible vision loss.
- Dry Eye Syndrome – Overuse of artificial tears may temporarily relieve dry eye symptoms but doesn’t address the root cause of the condition, which could be an underlying health issue or medication side effect.
- Allergies – Using eye drops excessively to manage allergy symptoms may not address the underlying allergen exposure. Identifying and avoiding allergens or seeking allergy treatment may be a more effective long-term solution.
Schedule an Eye Exam Today
Remember, using eye drops should always be done by the prescribed guidelines or as advised by your eye care professional to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the treatment. If you find yourself using eye drops frequently or experiencing persistent eye discomfort, it’s crucial to schedule an eye exam with an optometrist or ophthalmologist.
Call Insight Vision Center Optometry today at (714) 486-3315 to schedule an appointment. You can also visit our online contact page to get started. We also offer scleral lenses and vision therapy in Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, CA.