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  • Dr. Sandra Chiu

Why do my eyes feel worse after eye drops?

Have you turned to eye drops to soothe your irritated eyes, only to find that the eye drops made you feel worse? You’re not the only one! In this blog, you will learn a few reasons as to why you may be experiencing increased discomfort after using eye drops.

1. Ingredients

First off, ingredients in eye drops make a difference. Just as we look for quality ingredients in our food to sustain us, quality ingredients in eye drops are also critical to aid in the health of your eyes.


You may be surprised to find that your eye drops can contain a variety of preservatives in the ingredients. These are used in many eye drop formulations to keep the solution fresh. While in theory, this is great, preservatives often contribute to the initial stinging feeling you have when first dropped in the eyes.

Many older brands of eye drops contain an ingredient called benzalkonium chloride, also known as BAK. This is widely used as a preservative in eye drops and is known to cause damage to the ocular surface. Some people also have found that they are allergic to this specific ingredient, causing further irritation.

Consider trying eye drops that are preservative-free! At Carey Optical we carry an excellent line of preservative-free eye drops made by Latician Thea, which are only available to doctor’s clinics.


You’re in the wellness aisle looking for eye drops to soothe your red eyes and you come across an eye drop that says, “ Get the Red Out”. Reg flag, avoid eye drops that say this! This kind of eye drop typically includes an ingredient called tetrahydrozoline, which makes the eye appear whiter by constricting the blood vessels on the surface of the eye.

The problem is, the more the eye drops are used they become less effective over time. This means you resort to using the drops more often to achieve the same effect. Overuse can also lead to what is known as the “rebound effect”. Once the eye drop wears off, the eyes become even redder than they were before you started.


Steroid eye drops are given as prescription eye drops to patients as a short term solution to reduce inflammation caused by infection, moderate-severe chronic dry eye or contact lens-induced dry eye.

It is important to avoid the long term use of eye drops that contain steroids as sometimes patients become reliant on them to relieve their dry eye symptoms. If steroid eye drops are used too often to treat minor inflammation or irritation, it can lead to early cataracts as well as spikes in eye pressure. If the eye pressure spikes this can lead to glaucoma.

2. Make sure you’re using the right eye drops for you

Are you suffering from dry eye syndrome or concerned about the health of your eye? Consulting your Optometrist is the first step to finding the RIGHT solution to your problems.

There are so many different types of eye drops available over the counter or prescribed by your doctor including redness-relieving drops, lubricating drops for dry eye, itch-relieving (anti-allergy) drops, antibiotic drops for some infections, pressure-lowering eye drops for long-term treatment of glaucoma. There are also only certain eye drops that are suitable for those who wear contact lenses.

While that list seems overwhelming, choosing the right eye drops is made simple with the help of your Optometrist. If you are experiencing discomfort from dry eye or have other eye health concerns, consider booking an appointment with Dr Chiu. She will listen to your needs and give you the correct tools to combat your concerns. To schedule an appointment click, HERE.

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