How Do Eye Drops Work?

When you have dry eyes, you may reach for eye drops in hope of instant relief. They may seem magical, but eye drops are an example of science at work! Brill Eye Center breaks down how these drops work to provide temporary relief.

How Eye Drops Work

Your eyes need proper hydration to protect themselves from dust and to provide clear vision. When eyes lack the properBrill_Dry_Eye_Syndrome-2.jpg lubrication, you may experience discomfort, sensitivity, and redness. Eye drops, or ocular lubricants, are used to keep eyes moist and provide temporary relief from discomfort.

The drops interact with the tears in your eyes from the moment you drop them in your eyes. Closing your eyelids spreads the drops. When drops spread they moisten and lubricate the surface. Opening your eyelids causes the solution formed by the drops and your own tears to reform. This solution is held and repeatedly released with every blink. This is how eye drops are able to provide instant comfort to your eyes.

Chronic Eye Drop Use Indicates a Bigger Problem

Now that you understand how eye drops work, you understand they provide temporary relief rather than a permanent solution. Eye drops should be used for temporary discomfort only and should be used with caution. Causes of dry eyes include decreased tear production, increased tear evaporation, and imbalance in tear production. Some eye conditions can get worse if left untreated. Why suffer and waste time with eye drops when lasting solutions and long-term relief are possible? Chronic conditions require professional diagnosis and treatment rather than a palliative approach.

There are many eye drop options out there promising relief. Make sure you are only using eye drops occasionally because frequent use is a signal of more serious eye problems. Many patients are unaware that you can overuse eye drops. As with many medical conditions, if symptoms do not improve within 24-48 hours, or if they get worse, seek medical attention rather than self-treating.


We suggest this because the use of eye drops, or artificial tears, several times a day without relief may be a sign of other conditions including dry eye. There is no reason to suffer unnecessarily. If you find yourself reaching for the eye drops regularly, then it is time to ask about your other options.

If eye drops aren’t providing enough relief, you may have Dry Eye Syndrome.