I have come across a new, well not really new, but a reoccurring eye condition that is totally preventable. Visineitis, is that escalating irritated, red, sometimes itchy eye that results from using Visine or other “artificial tears” that either contain an agent that constricts blood vessels or high amounts of inexpensive preservatives. Recently, I saw a patient who had one very unhappy eye and the other look just fine. His comment was, “I do not understand why my left eye is so red, it is the one I keep putting the drops in?” This is an otherwise intelligent patient do what he thinks is correct, putting a drop in that is marketed as get the red out and all it does is put the red in!
This year’s allergy season has been worse than most and I have treated plenty of patients for red itchy eyes with the appropriate prescription eye drops. Artificial tears are a great first line of defense for irritated eyes. These drops can dilute or flush away irritating allergens and make the eyes look and feel better. Unfortunately, when you get to the drug store there are too many choices that all look the same. It is reasonable, when products all appear the same to pick the least expensive. Well they are not all the same. I could go down the list of preservatives or ingredients to avoid, but those names are long and the print too small to be useful to you. Instead the following products do a great job and are safe for your eyes. Blink® Tears, ReFresh® Tears, Optive® Tears and Gen Teal® Tears are all products I have experience with and do not contain any of the “Bad” stuff. They also come in preservative free preparations. If your eyes continue to be itchy see your eye doctor and get a prescription for an effective treatment.