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Can I Use Eye Drops with Contacts?

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A woman putting eye drops into her left eye

Eye drops have many uses, whether for dry eye relief or treating eye disease. While eye drops are easy to use, you may wonder what to do if you wear contact lenses. Can you use eye drops while wearing your contact lenses? 

Continue reading to learn more about eye drops, including if you can use them while wearing contact lenses and how to use your eye drops safely. 

Can You Use Eye Drops While Wearing Contact Lenses? 

It can be difficult to know if you can use eye drops while wearing contact lenses. In general, it’s best to take a cautious approach with eye drops and contacts.

Some eye drops are designed to work with contact lenses, while others aren’t. Look for confirmation when using eye drops, such as a “for use with contact lenses” on the bottle. 

Avoid using your eye drops with contact lenses if you don’t see any confirmation, or contact your optometrist. They can provide information and guidance on the safest way to use your eye drops. 

Types of Eye Drops

Many eye drops exist today because they have different purposes and provide different benefits. Learn more about some common eye drops and if you can use them with your contact lenses

Rewetting Eye Drops

Rewetting eye drops can help provide moisture to your contact lenses, improving your comfort and allowing you to wear your lenses for longer periods. Your eyes can dry from contact lens use, leading to irritation and redness. 

Rewetting drops are typically usable with contact lenses. You may even find them next to contact lens cleaning solutions at the store. Your optometrist can recommend an ideal brand for you to use. 

Dry Eye Eye Drops

Many eye drops exist for dry eyes, including over-the-counter and prescription options. Over-the-counter eye drops are available to everyone and simulate real tears to provide you with temporary relief of dry eye symptoms. There are many brands to choose between when it comes to non-prescription options. 

Prescription eye drops are only available from your optometrist and help treat chronic dry eyes. These eye drops have specific purposes, such as treating inflammation or increasing tear production. 

Besides differences in their purpose, dry eye drops come in different structures. Some eye drops are similar to tears, while others are thicker gels. These gels can cloud your vision or leave a residue on your contact lenses. 

Some eye drops are compatible with contact lenses but always look for confirmation on your eye drops bottle. Avoid using your eye drops with contact lenses if you don’t see confirmation, or call your eye doctor to check.    

Redness Eye Drops

Red eyes can be irritating and uncomfortable, but redness-relieving eye drops can help. These eye drops reduce swelling in the eye’s blood vessels, improving your comfort. Redness may return after these eye drops wear off, worsening your symptoms. 

It is generally worth removing your contact lenses before using these eye drops and only putting them back in once your redness is gone. 

Medicated Eye Drops

Sometimes you receive medicated eye drops to help treat conjunctivitis, allergies, injury, or another eye condition. These eye drops can vary, so it’s best to assume you cannot use them while wearing contact lenses. 

A man putting eye drops in his right eye

Using Your Eye Drops Safely

Regardless of whether you need to remove your contact lenses or not, use your eye drops safely. Applying eye drops seems easy, but there is always a risk of complications. Exposing your eye or the eyedropper to bacteria can lead to potential infections. 

Follow these steps to use your eye drops safely and effectively: 

  • Wash your hands with soap & water before drying them with a clean towel
  • Tilt your head back & pull your lower eyelid down with your finger before inserting your eye drops
  • Look up, get the tip of the dropper as close to your eye as possible without touching it & administer one drop of fluid into the pouch created with your lower eyelid
  • Close your eye & tilt your head down for 2–3 minutes—apply pressure to the inside corner of your eye to stop the fluid from draining into your nasal passages
  • Repeat these steps for the other eye

When in Doubt, Speak With Your Optometrist

To make a long story short, you can use eye drops while wearing contact lenses, but only if they are designed for it. Many types of eye drops are not ideal for use with contact lenses. You must read the eye drops bottle before inserting any drops into your eyes. 

Don’t make assumptions if you cannot find any reference to contact lens use on your bottle. You can always contact your optometrist with any questions or concerns about your eye drops. They have the knowledge and expertise to advise you on the best way to use your eye drops. Contact your eye doctor if you have questions or concerns about your contact lenses or eye drops.

Written by Total Vision

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