Eye drops and contact lenses

Types of eye drops 

The large variety of products available ensures that you find a treatment option for your issue or at least a short-term solution.  

Antibiotic eye drops 

In the UK, certain antibiotic eye drops, or eye ointments can only be obtained when prescribed by a GP or eye care professional. They are used to treat eye infections such as conjunctivitis (pink eye). They heal and prevent infections by killing the bacteria causing them.  

While treating an eye infection with antibiotic eye drops, you should not wear contact lenses. 

Allergy relief 

Allergy sufferers often have ocular symptoms, such as itchy, dry or red eyes, which are caused by irritants. A large variety of allergy eye drops is available as over the counter options or on prescription, for those with severe symptoms.  

Anti-allergy eye drops should not be used when wearing contact lenses; however, your optometrist will be able to advise on the best solution for you. 

Lubricating and re-wetting 

Re-wetting eye drops, or artificial tears are used to lubricate dry eyes, whether these were caused by environmental factors, age, or medication. Many brands offer lubricating eye drops without a prescription, but those who suffer from chronic dry eye disease may find prescription eye drops better suited for them. In either case, it is recommended to discuss your options with an eye care specialist, as they are able to recommend a brand that is best suited to treat your eyes.  

Re-wetting drops are often labelled as suitable for contact lens wearers, as these are developed without preservatives and can moisturise eyes during contact lens wear.  

Red-eye reducing 

Visible red veins in the eyes can be caused by several catalysts, such as allergies, stress, or infections. If the redness is not accompanied by irritation or soreness, some may wish to simply relieve the redness, rather than treat the initial cause for it. Redness relieving eye drops reduce visible blood vessels, but if used frequently can also cause the opposite result and irritate your eyes further.  

Therefore, they are not recommended to be used when wearing contact lenses, as the active ingredients absorb into the lens and stay on the eyes longer, which may cause them to become redder and more irritated than before. 

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