The 7 Best Eye Drops for Contacts of 2021

Relief from allergies, red eyes, eye-strain, and more

If you find glasses uncomfortable—or simply don’t like the way you look in them, you probably opt for contact lenses. And while they're a great alternative to glasses, they're not always a perfect solution to your optical woes.

Dry eyes and allergies can cause redness, itchiness, or an array of other symptoms when you have your lenses in. Don’t suffer through the pain. Do yourself a favor by opting for some eye drops. The right liquid can relieve your eyes from many discomforts, so you can rock your contacts all day long. 

Before you stock up, ensure that the drops you’re buying are specifically made for contacts. “Check the packaging of the eye drops to make sure the solution is designed for contact lenses,” VSP Network Eye Doctor Danielle Richardson emphasized to Verywell Health. “There are many over-the-counter lubricants, but not all work for contacts.” 

Moreover, keep an eye out (pun intended) for drops that work for you. There are solutions available that work best for dry eyes, hard or soft contact lenses, and more.

Blink Contacts' Lubricating Eye Drops are popular and versatile drops that have helped all kinds of people with contact lenses. If you’re glued to your computer screen for work, are a frequent flyer, or you often associate lens wear with stinging or burning, BlinkContacts can solve all of these issues and more. The formula uses hyaluronate, a naturally occurring substance found in your eyes, to lubricate lenses without irritation. Unless you have unique needs, this solution can combat the most common issues. 

Refresh your contacts for less with eye drops that can provide an immediate sigh of relief. You can use Refresh Contacts as often as you need, but a couple of drops throughout the day should do the trick. The drops create a liquid cushion to lubricate contact lenses and keep eyes feeling fresh and hydrated all day long. For those continuing to experience irritation, feel free to apply the drops to your contact lenses before putting them on.

Systane Zaditor Antihistamine is an upgrade from your standard over-the-counter eye drops. It boasts a triple-action, prescription-strength formula that provides rapid results and delivers up to 12 hours of eye itch relief for even the most irritating allergies. 

The thing to remember is, once you apply these drops, you can’t put your lenses back on right away. “It’s necessary to remove your contact lenses while putting in these drops and wait at least 10 minutes before reinserting the contacts,” says Warby Parker’s Director of Vision Services, Pratil Lal, MD. “For persistent allergy issues, one might consider switching to a daily disposable contact."

Bausch + Lomb Lumify Eye Drops feature an FDA-approved formula that starts working in as little as one minute and it contains an ingredient known as brimonidine tartrate. This addition whitens the eye by targeting distinct blood vessels, ultimately reducing the chance of the redness coming back.

At the same time, any redness that’s happening to your eye could occur for a myriad of reasons, including eye drops, so make sure you’re always consulting your doctor when trying a new product. “An allergic reaction to eye drops may include red, irritated, or itchy eyes,” Richardson explained. “You should also look out for signs of any deposits or cloudiness on your contact lens and contact your eye doctor if you notice any symptoms.” 

“Dry eyes with contact lenses can manifest itself in different ways such as grittiness, foreign body sensation, a burning sensation, and so on,” Dr. Lal said. If this is happening to you, pick up TheraTears Dry Eye Therapy ASAP. Not only do the drops give you long-lasting relief, they feature a hypotonic and electrolyte balance formula that can produce soothing, healthy tears. Start tearing up and let the dryness be gone. 

Even though they’re not as popular, gas permeable or rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses are hard contacts that let your eyes breathe easier by allowing more oxygen to pass through. They also end up being longer-lasting and durable, resulting in less lens tears. 

On the flip side, this means they don’t conform to the shape of your eye like soft lenses do. As a result, dust and debris easily slip in between the lens and your eye. The good thing is, Bausch+Lomb’s Boston Rewetting Drops for Rigid Gas Permeable Contact Lenses are known to quickly remove substances from the eye. If you’re doing any outdoor activity or just thinking about wearing your lenses for an extended period of time, it would benefit you to have these on hand. 

“For soft contacts, rewetting eye drops such as Opti-Free are a good option,” Lenscrafters optometrist Dr. Trang Ha says. Softer lenses may be more common, but sadly, there’s likely less oxygen getting to your cornea.

To avoid eye irritation because of minimal oxygen, use Opti-Free to moisten your lenses and get rid of any blurriness that could happen due to dryness. This formula helps remove any particles from the eye and is suitable for daily use.

Final Verdict

Now that you know you can’t use regular eye drops for contact lens irritation, it’s important to consult your doctor and know the kinds of issues you’re experiencing, otherwise it may lead to even more discomfort. “If you’re using a particular brand of eye drops that aren’t giving you the results you’re seeking, it’s always best to consult your eye doctor so that you can make sure you’re buying the best eye drops that are more appropriate for your vision care needs,” Dr. Ha pointed out.

Unless your doctor recommends something specific or you have particular issues, the BlinkContacts Lubricating Eye Drops should help most lens wearers. Feel free to keep one in your bag and at home, so you can stay comfy on-the-go. If you frequently suffer from allergies, Zaditor Antihistamine Eye Drops can provide up to 12 hours of itch relief.

What to Look for in Eye Drops for Contacts

Contact-Specific: Not all over-the-counter eye drops work for contacts. “Eye drops that aren't meant for contact lenses can temporarily alter how a lens fits your eye or discolor the lens,” Dr. Ha mentioned. “Side effects may include stinging, redness, blurry vision, and inflammation.” 

Allergies: Don’t forget, your eyes can be allergic to the drops themselves. Make sure you’re taking note of your symptoms and consulting your doctor if irritation worsens.

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.

Why Trust Verywell

As a seasoned health writer, Isis Briones knows the importance of finding products that work best for you and your conditions. You can count on her to always provide a variety of recommendations from licensed medical professionals because she has tested and reviewed many products over the years and knows everyone is different.

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  1. McLaurin E, et al. Brimonidine Ophthalmic Solution 0.025% for Reduction of Ocular Redness: A Randomized Clinical TrialOptom vis sci: official publication of the American Academy of Optometry vol. 2018;95(3):264-271. doi:10.1097/OPX.0000000000001182