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  • Why do my eyes burn after using eye drops?


    I have moderate dry eyes. After using lubricating eye drops, my eyes suffer from severe burning pain, which persist after closing my eyes. I tried other non-preservative eye drops but it’s still painful. Any reason why this may be happening?


    Any eye drop, even ones designed to lubricate and soothe, can cause irritation in some situations. One consideration is the ingredients used in the artificial tear. Your eye may react poorly to one brand of artificial tear and trying a different brand is advisable. If someone is experiencing irritation using artificial tears, I always recommend trying a different preservative-free tear brand first.

    In addition to lubricating eye drops, you might also consider fish oil or omega-3s, prescription eye drops or punctal plugs to help retain more of your eyes’ natural tears. Ask your doctor if these or other remedies might help you.  

    Another possibility is neuropathic dry eye. In this condition, the cornea’s nerve endings can become so sensitized that even benign stimuli, such as preservative free artificial tears, cause irritation and pain. Your ophthalmologist may suspect this when your pain is out of proportion with what’s seen during a corneal exam. To soothe the pain, possible treatments include topical steroids, anti-inflammatories, serum tears, contact lenses, and oral neuro-modulating medications, but not all patients find these treatments effective. You should discuss your experience with your ophthalmologist to find the right treatment for you.

    This question was originally answered on April 3, 2020.

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