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Can I Use Eye Drops With My Contact Lenses?


Updated May 28, 2014

Eye Drops with Contacts
Hitoshi Nishimura Collection/Taxi Japan/Getty Images
Question: Can I Use Eye Drops With My Contact Lenses?
Answer: Yes. Certain eye drops can be used with contact lenses. Most over-the-counter eye drops are divided into three categories: “dry eye" eye drops, “get the red out” eye drops and “contact lens” eye drops.
  • "Dry eye" eye drops:

    Dry eye drops come in a variety of formulations. Some are thicker than others and may actually cloud your vision or “gum up” your contact lenses. While some of them may be okay for use with contact lenses, they are designed to not only lubricate the eye, but to promote healing of the eye’s surface.

  • “Get the red out” eye drops:

    "Get the red out" drops have special ingredients called vasoconstrictors. These drops shrink the tiny blood vessels in the conjunctiva, the clear tissue that coats the white part of your eye. These eye drops could cause deposits to form of the surface of your contact lenses and if used repetitively to re-wet your contact lenses, could cause “rebound” redness. Rebound redness occurs when the vasoconstrictor wears off. The blood vessels dilate larger, causing the eyes to appear bloodshot. This may cause dependency or mask underlying infections or inflammations.

  • "Contact lens" eye drops:

    Contact lens eye drops are often called re-wetting drops. Re-wetting drops lubricate your eye and hydrate the contact lens, making your eyes more comfortable while wearing your contact lenses. Theses eye drops are labeled “For use with soft contact lenses,” and are usually located next to contact lens cleaning solutions in the store. Eye care professionals usually encourage frequent use of re-wetting drops, as it improves comfort and helps clear out debris underneath your contact lenses.

  • Talk to your eye doctor if you are taking any eye drops for medical eye problems, such as glaucoma. Ask your eye doctor for the best way to insert eye drops and whether or not contact lenses should be worn while taking your medication.

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