Gets the red out...and puts it back in?
July 27, 2008 8:27 PM   Subscribe

Is it really true that putting in anti-redness eyedrops can make the redness worse?

I'm thinking Visine and Clear Eyes. I hear time and time again that because they reduce eye redness by constricting the blood vessels, the redness comes back even worse and you get "addicted" to the drops. Any evidence that this is true?
posted by melissam to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I don't know about your question specifically, but I will note that instead of treating the redness specifically you should try some drops marketed as "lubricating." I was having recurrent severe eye pain until I began using these. I would never go back to either anti-redness drops or plain saline drops.
posted by sonic meat machine at 8:37 PM on July 27, 2008

It is possible to get an addiction to those kinds of drops, similar to what you describe. It's the same kind of thing as the way that some people get an addiction to decongestant nasal spray.

But you have to use the drops a lot in order for it to happen. It's not usually something that happens after one or two doses.

Anti-redness drops really shouldn't be used to treat dry-eye or itchiness. What you should use is "artificial tears". They contain sterile saline mixed with sliming agents but don't contain any formal drugs such as the one that "gets the redness out". Using saline alone is not recommended because it doesn't lubricate properly and your eye socket can become inflamed. (One of the functions of tears is to be lubrication for your eyeball.)

Different brands of artificial tears use different sliming agents in different combinations and quantities. After doing a fair amount of experimentation, I settled on "Visine Tears" as being the one I found to be the most useful and comfortable -- but YMMV.
posted by Class Goat at 8:57 PM on July 27, 2008

Instead of using artificial tears, my dad used Visine several times a day for a week straight. The doctor said he sterilized his eye and developed blepharitis - his eyelid swelled up.

I don't know why but the doctor said the blepharitis is permanent. His eyelid a couple of years later is still slightly more swollen than the other. If you want to risk it...
posted by IndigoRain at 11:44 PM on July 27, 2008

As IndigoRain mentions, if you have red eyes you should consider that you might have blepharitis - inflammation of the eyelids that prevents tears from reaching and lubricating the eye. The treatment - basically washing the eyelids with a 1/10 dilution of baby soap once of twice a day - is very simple.
posted by rongorongo at 2:07 AM on July 28, 2008

I use Visine everyday, not because my eyes are red, but because I like the whites of my eyes super white. I usually use it just once in the morning, unless my eyes get dry sometime throughout the day. I use the redness relief plus moisturizing one. The only time my eyes get red to the point of anyone else noticing it, is when my contacts irritate my eyes.
posted by MaryDellamorte at 3:54 AM on July 28, 2008

I have very dry eyes (partly because of medications I take). A few years ago, my optometrist suggested two things: flax seed oil capsules and eyedrops...but NOT the "get the red out" variety.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:01 AM on July 28, 2008

FYI, to anyone like me who suffers from chronically itchy eyes (due to pet allergies, etc.) and who has found typical Visine products and Visine Allergy drops to be ineffective for itchy eyes: Try one of the new OTC eye drop products containing Ketotifen Fumarate. (ZADITOR is the major brand name, but I use the generic Walgreen's version.) It works great for me. A cat on my lap no longer leaves me wanting to carve my eyeballs out with a grapefruit spoon.
posted by applemeat at 6:14 AM on July 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Systane is the best artificial tear\lubricating drop.
No addictiveness (unless one forms a habit of just constantly putting something into their eyes) and it won't stop your eyes from natural tear production.
posted by zephyr_words at 6:55 AM on July 28, 2008

My opthalmalogist recommended Refresh Plus drops. The "get the red out" drops actually work by drying out your eyes, which is usually not what you want. There are two properties you want to keep in mind when choosing eye drops for regular use - 1) chemically similar to normal tears and 2) indiviudual-use packages so they have no preservatives.
posted by Caviar at 7:30 AM on July 28, 2008

Vasoconstrictors in Visine do make the symptoms recur worse. The NIH site (MedLine Encyclopedia) verifies this. Longterm use or overuse can, in extreme conditions, cause serious side effects.

If you have allergies, an antihistamine like Zaditor or Naphcon works better to relieve itching.
posted by cherie72 at 8:22 AM on July 28, 2008

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