“Get the Red Out” Drops – Not as Great as You Think

October 11, 2017 • 0 comments

You’ve all seen the commercials for different drops available to “get the red out” of your eyes and you may have used them on yourselves and your kids – from Visine to Clear Eyes to Rohto and many more.  These drops seem great because they promise to eliminate the symptoms of red eyes, but are you aware of their side effects?

The active ingredient in “Get the Red Out” drops is a vasoconstrictor, which makes blood vessels shrink temporarily.  The problem is something called “reflex vasodilation.”  When the drop wears off, the constricted blood vessels relax, often bigger than before.  This may make you want another dose to achieve that whiteness again, and when that dose wears off, your eyes will be even redder, again.  So the vicious cycle goes, on and on.

Contact lens users really shouldn’t use “get the red out” drops.  Since contact lenses already significantly reduce oxygen flows to the eye, adding a vasoconstrictor drop into the mix only makes your eyes drier (narrowing blood vessels leads to less oxygen delivered to the tissues).

While these drops are good for an immediate aesthetic touch-up for special occasions such as a headshot or big event, I don’t recommend using them on a daily basis.  Don’t get trapped into rebound redness that leads you to reach for more drops and leaves you in a vicious cycle – it is possible to become extremely dependent.  Over time, the blood vessels in your eye will get damaged and your eyes will only get redder with continued use.

I recommend artificial tears like Systane or Theratears.  While artificial tears do not necessarily get the red out, they will most likely wash out what’s irritating your eyes and therefore what’s causing the redness.



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