Dryness can cause irritation and redness, which can lead to discomfort and make wearing contact lenses difficult. Gel eye drops lubricate the eyes and can ease dry eye symptoms.
A quick look at the 5 best gel eye drops:
- Best for digital eyestrain: Systane Gel Drops
- Best preservative-free eye drops: Refresh Optive Mega-3
- Best for severe dry eye symptoms: GenTeal Lubricant Eye Gel
- Best for nighttime relief: HydraSense Ultra Night for Dry Eyes
- Best for contact lens wearers: Refresh Relieva for Contacts
Tears play an important role in keeping the eyes healthy. They protect the eyesTrusted Source from irritation and infection, keep the eyes moist, and help focus light so a person’s vision stays clear.
The body produces tears from glands above the eyes. The tears spread over the cornea when a person blinks, then drain into the tear ducts, which sit between the nose and the inside corners of the eyes.
Not producing enough tears is one causeTrusted Source of eye dryness. This issue can lead to irritation and problems with vision.
Symptoms of dry eyes include:
- a stinging and burning sensation
- blurry vision
- a scratchy or gritty feeling
- strings of mucus in or around the eyes
- excess tears, to compensate for the dryness
In addition, a person with dry eyes may have difficulty wearing contacts.
Gel eye drops can be suitable for people with dry eyes. Gel drops start off as a liquid but turn to gel when they come in contact with the eye.
There are several typesTrusted Source of gel eye drops, such as:
- Thermo responsive: These turn to gel when they encounter the temperature of the eyes.
- pH responsive: These turn to gel due to a change in pH, such as when they come in contact with the neutral pH of the eyes.
- Ion responsive: These rely on a chemical reaction when in contact with the eyes.
- Multi-stimuli responsive: Some eye drops rely on a mix of responses to change into gel. For example, some eye drops are both heat sensitive and ion responsive.
Lubricating eye drops act like a person’s tears. They support the natural film of tears on the eye and increase moisture.
The tear film has three layersTrusted Source:
- an oily top layer that prevents tears from drying too quickly and keeps the surface of the eye smooth
- a watery middle layer that keeps the eyes moist
- a mucous inner layer that helps the tear film stay on the surface
Gel eye drops are a type of lubricating eye drops. They are thicker than liquid drops, so they may cause temporary blurring.
Some eye drops are only available by prescription. Anyone who is experiencing symptoms that do not resolve or become worse should contact a healthcare professional.