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Artificial tears are eyedrops used to lubricate dry eyes and help maintain moisture on the outer surface of your eyes. Such eyedrops may be used to treat dry eyes that result from aging, certain medications, a medical condition, eye surgery or environmental factors, such as smoky or windy conditions.
Artificial tears are available without a prescription. No single brand works best for every form of dry eyes. You may need to try several different brands before you find one that works best for you.
Besides lubricating your eyes, some artificial tears also promote healing of the eyes and others work to decrease tear evaporation. Artificial tears may also contain thickening agents, which keep the solution on the surface of your eyes longer.
Artificial tears are also available as nonprescription gels and gel inserts. These may cause temporary blurred vision.
The mode of action of ocular lubricants is poorly understood but plausible mechanisms include a lubricating action, replacement of certain missing tear constituents, reduction of tear film osmolarity, dilution of inflammatory substances, or a combination of these2.
There are two categories of artificial tears: