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Can I get addicted to eyedrops?

Many of us have used eye drops. It might be for dry eye or allergy or just to look a bit better after a late night. But many of my patients ask me : Can I get addicted to eye drops? Will I become dependent?

Basically the answer for most drops is no. In fact if you suffer from a dry eye or allergy condition, avoiding taking eye drops or using less than you should actually makes the situation worse. That's because any chronic eye condition which is under-treated actually causes damage to the delicate tissues of the eye including the lining skin layer and the tear glands. I say to my patients avoiding drops is like not watering your plants- it just makes them go brown and die.

There are two notable exceptions. First is prescription eye drops. You should always start and stop these as per your doctor. Even eye drops can cause side effects both to your eyes and body.

The other is "eye whitening" drops. Drops which contain a vasoconstrictor such as phenylephrine make your eyes lovely and white but you can become dependent on them. Eventually you need more and more and your eyes get redder and redder. So don't use these long term.

Your pharmacist is always a good source of advice. So ask if you are unsure :)

* Information on this blog is general in nature and should not be taken as professional medical advice or as a substitute for a consultation with a medical professional.

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