Artificial Tears: What They Are and How They Work

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Artificial tears are a type of eye drop used to relieve dryness and discomfort in the eyes. They are made up of a variety of ingredients designed to mimic the natural tears that lubricate the eyes. In this article, we will take a closer look at artificial tears, their uses, and how they work.

What are Artificial Tears?

Artificial tears are a solution of various substances, including water, electrolytes, and lubricants, designed to moisten the eyes. They are used to treat dry eye syndrome, a common condition characterized by a lack of natural tears, which can cause discomfort, irritation, and vision problems.

How Do Artificial Tears Work?

Artificial tears work by supplementing the natural tears that lubricate the eyes. They help to keep the eyes moist and reduce dryness, redness, and irritation. The lubricants in artificial tears also help to protect the surface of the eye from further damage and promote healing.

Types of Artificial Tears

There are three main types of artificial tears: preservative-free artificial tears, lubricant drops, and gels and ointments.

Preservative-Free Artificial Tears

Preservative-free artificial tears are recommended for people who have sensitive eyes or who need to use the drops frequently. They do not contain the preservatives found in many other types of artificial tears, which can irritate the eyes with long-term use.

Lubricant Drops

Lubricant drops are the most common type of artificial tears. They are made up of a combination of water, lubricants, and electrolytes, and are designed to mimic the composition of natural tears. Lubricant drops can provide temporary relief from dry eye symptoms and are available in a range of formulations to suit different needs.

Gels and Ointments

Gels and ointments are thicker than lubricant drops and are designed to provide longer-lasting relief. They are recommended for people with more severe dry eye symptoms or who need to use artificial tears overnight. However, they can cause temporary blurry vision, so they should be used with caution.

When to Use Artificial Tears

Artificial tears can be used to relieve the symptoms of dry eye syndrome, including dryness, redness, itching, and irritation. They can also be used to protect the eyes from irritants such as wind, smoke, and dust. Additionally, they are often used to relieve discomfort and irritation caused by contact lenses.

Side Effects and Precautions

Although artificial tears are generally safe, they can cause side effects in some people. These may include blurred vision, eye irritation, or redness. In rare cases, they can cause an allergic reaction. It is important to follow the instructions on the label and consult a doctor or pharmacist if you experience any side effects.


Artificial tears are a useful and effective way to relieve the symptoms of dry eye syndrome and protect the eyes from irritants. There are different types of artificial tears available, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. If you are experiencing dry eye symptoms, speak to your doctor or pharmacist to determine which type of artificial tears may be right for you.


  1. Are artificial tears safe for long-term use?
  2. Can artificial tears be used with contact lenses?
  3. How often should I use artificial tears?
  4. Can I use different types of artificial tears at the same time?

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