The 7 Best Eye Drops for Contacts of 2022

Blink Contacts Eye Drops help prevent allergies, red eyes, eye strain, and more

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Those who regularly suffer from dry eyes know that any further irritation can be incredibly uncomfortable. So if you're thinking you can just power through the dryness while wearing contacts, think again: Dry eyes—from long-term contact wear or allergies—can cause redness, itchiness, and an array of other symptoms when you have your lenses in.

Tested & Approved

Blink Contacts Lubricant Eye Drops provide the moisture and comfort you need to get through your day. If you need allergy relief for your itchy, dry eyes, Zaditor Antihistamine Eye Itch Relief Eye Drops are a great solution.

"A contact generally needs to stay hydrated, and it gets that hydration from the tear layer of the eye," says Steve Menzel, OD, optometrist at Clarkson Eyecare in St. Louis, Missouri. "If an eye cannot provide what the contact needs, it will feel dry on the eye."

There are plenty of eye drops formulated to be used by contact lens wearers, and the right ones can relieve your eyes from many discomforts and allow you to wear your contacts all day long. But when you're shopping for eye drops for contacts, ensure that the drops you're buying are easy to use and are specifically made for contacts. We researched dozens of eye drops for contacts and evaluated them for key ingredients, dosage, usage, and price.

Here are the best eye drops for contacts on the market today.

Best Overall: Blink Contacts Lubricant Eye Drops

5
Blink Contacts Lubricant Eye Drops

 Courtesy of Walmart

Pros
  • Preservative-free

  • Can be used as often as needed

  • Formulated specifically for contacts

Cons
  • Frequently out of stock

  • Pricing breakdown can be confusing

What do buyers say? 85% of 300+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 5 stars.

We like Blink Contacts as our best overall pick because they provide lubrication specifically for people with contacts. They're gentle enough to be used daily—even multiple times per day—and don't contain any active ingredients or harsh preservatives. They won't damage your lenses, either, and include hyaluronate for a max boost of hydration without irritation.

These drops should be added to the contact lens before insertion. You can use a single drop inside each contact before you insert your contacts as normal, but once they're in, you'll have relief for hours. Because they're so popular, however, they tend to be out of stock frequently—which may be important to note if you plan on regularly using these drops.

Active Ingredients: Purified water, sodium hyaluronate | Usage: Apply 1-2 drops per eye as needed

Best Budget: Refresh Contacts Contact Lens Comfort Drops

Refresh Contacts Contact Lens Comfort Drops

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • All-purpose for both hard and soft lenses

  • Can be used as often as needed

Cons
  • Short shelf life

  • Watery formula may not be effective enough for some

If it seems like you can always feel your contact lenses pressed against the surface of your eye, then you probably need more hydration to reduce that harsh, gritty, stuck-on sensation. Refresh Contacts Comfort Drops moisturize and soothe, creating what the company calls a "liquid cushion" between the lens and your eye, which makes wearing your lenses every day much more comfortable.

On top of being affordable, we love that these drops can be used while your lenses are inserted and that they're comfortable for rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses as well as soft lenses.

Active Ingredients: Carboxymethylcellulose sodium, sodium chloride, boric acid | Usage: Apply 1-2 drops per eye as needed

Best for Allergies: Zaditor Eye Itch Relief Antihistamine Eye Drops

Zaditor Eye Itch Relief Antihistamine Eye Drops

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Can last up to 12 hours

  • Includes a strong antihistamine ingredient

  • Safe for ages 3 and up

Cons
  • Must be used before inserting contacts

  • Ketotifen may cause irritation

If you need eye drops to combat symptoms of eye allergies (which might include itching, redness, and watering), you'll need to opt for a drop with some kind of antihistamine ingredient. That's okay, as long as it's safe to use alongside contact lenses, like the eye itch relief drops by Zaditor. Containing ketotifen fumarate, these drops can last up to 12 hours—and they're safe for everyday use, even if you're a contact lens wearer.

One caveat, though: No matter what brand of allergy eye drops you choose, including Zaditor, you can't apply the drops while your contacts are inserted.

"If you are using medicated eye drops, especially for allergies, it is really important that the medicated eye drops go into the eye well before contact lens wear," explains NYU Langone optometrist Brieann K. Adair, OD, who adds that you should wait at least 10 minutes after the drops are used before putting the contact lens in the eye. "This allows your medication to have the maximum amount of time to be absorbed and work on your eye, and also keeps the contact lenses in good condition."

Active Ingredients: Ketotifen fumarate 0.035% | Usage: Apply 1 drop in the affected eye(s) every 8–12 hours and no more than twice per day

Best for Red Eyes: Bausch + Lomb Lumify Redness Reliever Eye Drops

Bausch + Lomb Lumify Redness Reliever Eye Drops

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Safer than drops containing pseudoephedrine

  • Works quickly

  • Can brighten whites of eyes for up to 8 hours

Cons
  • Must be used before inserting contacts

  • May cause allergic reaction for some

Many redness-relieving eye drops contain a vasoconstrictor, typically a decongestant ingredient like pseudoephedrine, to work their magic on swollen, inflamed blood vessels in the eye. The only problem is that these vasoconstrictors can quickly cause rebound redness if you use them more than infrequently.

What we like about these Lumify drops is that they rely on brimonidine, not pseudoephedrine, to relieve redness, eliminating the concerns over rebound effects. Now, because they are still a medicated eye drop, you shouldn't use them while your contacts are inserted; just like drops for allergies, you'll need to wait at least 10 minutes after applying the drops to put in your lenses.

Active Ingredients: Brimonidine tartrate 0.025% | Usage: Apply 1 drop in the affected eye(s) every 6-8 hours, maximum 4 times per day

Best for Dry Eyes: TheraTears Extra Dry Eye Therapy

TheraTears Eye Drops for Dry Eyes

 Courtesy of Walmart

Pros
  • Uses electrolytes to moisturize your tear film

  • Promotes healthy production of natural tears

  • Cleanses and moisturizes

Cons
  • May cause initial burning sensation

If you thought you were the only person out there struggling to be comfortable while their contacts are in, think again: Contact lenses are known to be drying to the eye.

"Contact lenses, though safe, are still a foreign object that is sitting on the surface of the eye, particularly within the tear film," says Dr. Adair. "Because they're soft, contact lenses can absorb and pull moisture from the surface of the eye."

The preservative-free lubricating drops by TheraTears work with your eye's natural anatomy, using an electrolyte formula that mimics the same electrolytes found in your tears. It re-balances your eye's hydration levels, providing long-lasting moisturization and removing irritants that contribute to dry eye symptoms. The omega-3 formula also promotes healthy tear production, meaning these drops don't just rewet your eyes for you—they help your eye do it itself.

Active Ingredients: Sodium carboxymethylcellulose 0.25% | Usage: Apply 1-2 drops in the affected eye(s) as needed

Best for Hard Contact Lenses: Bausch + Lomb Boston Rewetting Drops

Bausch + Lomb Boston Rewetting Drops

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Safe for hard contact lenses

  • Cushions the lens to reduce friction

  • Removes lens build up

Cons
  • Bottle may be difficult to squeeze

If you wear hard contacts, you'll need to look for drops specially formulated for your lenses; you can't grab any contact-friendly solution off the shelf. The Bausch + Lomb Boston Rewetting Drops are made for people with rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses, i.e., "hard" lenses, soothing and cleansing your eye to maximize comfort.

These drops work in two ways: by covering the surface of the lens with hydration to reduce irritating friction between your lens and your eye, and by removing debris and build-up on the lenses that can contribute to dryness. They also help restore the natural tear layer, which means you may be able to wear them for longer when using these drops than without.

Active Ingredients: Cationic cellulose derivative polymer, polyvinyl alcohol, hydroxyethyl cellulose | Usage: Apply 1-3 drops into each eye as needed

Best for Soft Lenses: Opti-Free Puremoist Rewetting Drops

Opti-Free Puremoist Rewetting Drops

Amazon

Pros
  • Provides an instant burst of refreshing moisture

  • Cleanses debris and prevents build up

Cons
  • May cause initial burning sensation

  • Watery formula may not be effective enough for some

If the Bausch + Lomb Boston Rewetting Drops are the gold standard for hard contacts, the Puremoist Rewetting Drops by Opti-Free are the soft lens counterpart. They instantly increase the moisture level in your eye while you're wearing contacts, they cleanse and remove irritants, and they act as a preventative shield against build-up (an especially useful feature if you wear weekly or monthly lenses). They're an easy-to-use, on-the-go option for anyone with soft lenses and dry, irritated eyes.

Active Ingredients: Sodium chloride, edetate disodium, POLYQUAD | Usage: Apply 1-2 drops into each eye as needed

Final Verdict

Blink Contacts Lubricant Eye Drops are one of the only products designed specifically to relieve dryness while your contacts are inserted, so they're an obvious choice for best pick; not only are they safe to use, they include the hydration powerhouse ingredient hyaluronate for maximum comfort and moisturization. If you need medicated drops for allergies or redness, Zaditor Eye Itch Relief is your best bet.

How We Selected

When selecting the best eye drops for contacts, we spoke with optometrists and spent hours combing the web for the best and most effective products. After taking all of our options into consideration, we determined which to feature based on a few key criteria as recommended by dermatologists: key ingredients, dosage, price, and the type of contact they're compatible with.

Once we narrowed down our options, we compared each eye drop's benefits to its price tag. While some choices on our list may be more expensive than others, we wanted to give a wide range of options for buyers that would fit all needs and budgets. Based on all of these factors, we compiled this list of the best eye drops for contacts.

What to Look for in Eye Drops for Contacts

Contact-Specific

Not all over-the-counter eye drops work for contacts, and the wrong kinds can interfere with your vision. "Eye drops that aren't meant for contact lenses can temporarily alter how a lens fits your eye or discolor the lens," Lenscrafters optometrist Trang Ha, OD warns.

And that's the best-case scenario; putting incompatible drops into your eyes can even damage your eye.

"Any drop you place in your eye while your contact is in will absorb into the material of the contact lens," explains Dr. Menzel. "This absorption will increase the concentration of the drop and overall exposure over time to the eye's surface, [which] can cause adverse effects to the cornea tissue." 

This is why you have to be especially careful when choosing a contact-friendly eye drop; they're designed to be diluted by your tears, Dr. Menzel adds, not to sit for a prolonged time in the material of a contact. Doing so can affect your lenses and your sight.

Ingredients

When it comes to the ingredient listing on the back of the box, there are some things you should try to avoid if you're a contact-wearer—namely preservatives. Eye drops made to be safe for use with contacts should not include preservatives like BAK, or benzalkonium chloride, which can cause damage to the conjunctival and corneal cells in your eye, especially with chronic use.

"Preservatives can cause irritation to the eye, but can also impact or degrade the contact lenses," says Dr. Adair. "In order to keep your contact lenses in the best condition possible, we recommend using a preservative-free formula or formula that's made specifically for contact lenses."

If you're going preservative-free, you can opt for liquid-based drops. These usually contain ingredients like:

  • Castor oil
  • Glycerin
  • Hydroxypropyl-guar
  • Mineral oil

If you're unsure about the ingredients in your eye drops, talk to an optometrist about a solution that will work best for you.

Ease of Use

If you can't simply squeeze a few drops into a dry eye when you're sitting at your desk or at home watching TV, you might be less likely to use them. That can be a real problem since regular use of contact-safe eye drops can be an important part of your overall eye care.

"It's important to maintain a consistent and healthy eye regimen that can include using artificial tears," says Dr. Adair, "to keep the front surface of the eye lubricated, in good condition, and to make sure the contact lenses are not impacting your overall health and comfort."

If you need to use eye drops that can't be applied while your contacts are in, like the Zaditor drops listed here, that's fine—those drops are often only used once or twice per day, max. But drops you may want to use more frequently, like rewetting drops and artificial tears, should take no more than a few seconds to apply in a pinch.

Hard vs. Soft Contacts

Finally, take into consideration the kind of lenses you wear. There are eye drops made for hard and soft lenses; each of these performs a slightly different function, so make sure to find an eye drop that specifically suits your contact lenses.

"If the eye drops are going in before or after contact lens wear, generally any drops are safe to use," says Dr. Adair. "But if you are wearing a specialty type of contact lens, such as hard lenses or scleral lenses, you should be using drops that are made specifically for them or the drops recommended by your doctor."

In other words, some lenses and drops don't play well together, and it's important to consider what type of lenses you wear and what your eye drop needs are before choosing a product.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can you use eye drops for redness with contacts?

    Unless the manufacturer specifically states otherwise, you should not apply redness-reducing eye drops when your lenses are in your eye. These drops often contain decongestant ingredients to shrink the inflamed blood vessels causing redness, and those aren't safe to use while your lenses are inserted.

    Instead, use the drops before you put your contacts in for the day, and again when you take them out.

  • Are lubricating eye drops safe for contacts?

    Lubricating drops are safe in that they won't disrupt your vision or interfere with the health of your eye. These drops can improve the overall comfort and wear time of contacts for some users.

    But some lubricating agents can shorten the life of lenses, so look for contact-specific lubricating drops or limit the use of artificial tears to before and after contact lens wear.

  • What kinds of eye drops are safe for contacts?

    Rewetting eye drops are specifically made for use with contact lenses. Other eye drops may contain preservatives and other types of chemicals that can irritate the eye and damage contacts, says Dr. Adair. You may need to avoid wearing your contacts when using medicated or dry eye drops. Check labels and read directions to be sure.

  • Can I use eye drops instead of contact solution?

    No, they have two different functions. Eye drops are designed to lubricate eyes, while contact lens solution is intended to clean and disinfect lenses. The chemicals in contact lens solution can be irritating to the eye.

  • How often can I use eye drops?

    According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, you can safely use lubricating eye drops anytime you need them—as long as they don't contain preservatives. For products that do contain preservatives (which are intended to fight off contamination with bacteria once the bottle is opened), a rule of thumb is to use them no more than four times per day.

Why Trust Verywell Health

Sarah Bradley has been writing health content since 2017—everything from product roundups and illness FAQs to nutrition explainers and the dish on diet trends. She knows how important it is to receive trustworthy and expert-approved advice about over-the-counter products that manage everyday health conditions, from GI issues and allergies to chronic headaches and joint pain.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Goldstein MH, Silva FQ, Blender N, et al. Ocular benzalkonium chloride exposure: problems and solutionsEye. 2022;36:361–368. doi:10.1038/s41433-021-01668-x

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Contact lens care systems & solutions.

  3. American Academy of Ophthalmology. Lubricating eye drops for dry eyes.

By Sarah Bradley
Sarah has written for Verywell Health since August 2020. Her work has been featured on sites like On Parenting from The Washington Post, The Writer, and O the Oprah Magazine. Sarah has a bachelor's degree in English from Southern Connecticut State University.