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Why Should You Use Preservative Free Eye Drops?

Preservative Free Eye Drops

Preservative free eye drops are the eye drops with no chemical preservative.  Most of the eye drops consist of chemical preservatives to hinder the microbial growth and also always keep them free of bacteria contamination. However these chemical preservatives may possibly cause allergic reaction or hypersensitivity to some of the individuals. Therefore always remember,  eye drops that contain chemical preservatives can normally result in itchiness, redness and even dryness of eye. That’s why most of the eye care professionals suggest applying preservative free eye drops to prevent this issue.

Most preservative free allergy eye drops can be found in tubes of single unit dose. They must be disposed of right after 24 hours once they are opened. If these  eye drops are exposed to the environment and stored too long, it will cause bacteria to grow in the solution.

What do all those abbreviations mean on the preservative free eye drops prescription? Here is a brief summary of some of the more commonly used abbreviations:

  • Q.D. = right eye
  • O.S. = left eye
  • O.U. = both eyes
  • q.d. = once daily
  • b.i.d. = twice daily
  • t.i.d. = three times daily
  • q.i.d. = four times daily
  • h.s. = at bedtime
  • oph sol = ophthalmic solution
  • oph ung = ophthalmic ointment
  • gtts = drops
  • ml = milliliter (measure of volume)
  • mg = milligram (measure of weight)

Preservative free eye drops bottle caps color

preservative free eye drops

Red caps usually indicate that the drops are in the class called “mydriatic/cycloplegics” which cause temporary dilation of the pupil and decreased accommodation (close range focus). Green caps indicate that the drops are “miotics” which constrict the pupil and lower intraocular pressure. Efforts are being made to further color code all classes of eye drops to help avoid errors in usage of the drops.

What about the “over the counter” preservative free eye drops? Most “OTC” eye drops can be used safely provided the package insert is carefully read and understood. Artificial tears can be very safe and effective drops to soothe tired or dry eyes. Eye washes and used carefully to avoid injury to the eye from the cup or dispenser. Decongestant drops should not be overused. Persistent redness or irritation of the eyes should be reported to your ophthalmologist.

Prior to Using Preservative Free Eye Drops

Always remember to check, check and recheck the label. Inappropriate use of the eye drops can cause allergy and severe damage to the eyes. There have also been many instances of ocular injury from the mistaken use of various household liquids including glues and adhesives! It is especially important to check ointments and creams as there are many different types of medications and other substances that are supplied in tubes.

Also, don’t self-medicate or overmedicate. Always consult your doctor for the proper prescription for the best preservative free eye drops. Serious side effects commonly result from the prolonged inappropriate use of cortisone containing eye drops. These and many other types of eye medic should not be casually used as “eye washes” or whiteners.”