Eye whitening drops are a medication that is used to help irritated eyes and lessening bloodshot eyes. They can be purchased over the counter or an eye doctor may prescribe them if a stronger medication is required.
Whitening drops contain vasoconstrictors which is a medication that makes the small blood vessels on the eye shrink which in turn looks as if the eyes are whiter. This type of medication is in liquid form and the drops are instilled on to the outer part of the eye.
Many people that suffer with red eyes find it an unsightly and uncomfortable condition. Many things can cause the small blood vessels on the eye’s surface to bulge out, such as lack of sleep, allergies and over use of VDUs for example. The white part of the eye is called the sclera and it surrounds the coloured part, the iris. The sclera is creamy white in colour and the blood vessels are not normally obvious unless you do suffer with red eyes. Red eyes happen when these small blood vessels on the sclera bulge out with blood eye whitening.
Most whitening drops only contain vasoconstrictors and are made for the sole use of lessening the blood vessels on the eye. Some eye whitening drops though are also made with antihistamines or lubricants to help with the itching, swelling and redness that are caused by allergies. Whitening drops do not work against infection, allergies, or any kind of viral or bacterial disease.
Ophthalmologists, opticians and manufacturers warn patients against long term use of whitening drops as overtime it can cause an over-reaction rebound effect of red eyes. The means that overtime the vasoconstrictors in whitening eye drops cause the blood vessels to shrink which reduces the blood flow to the sclera. When the whitening effect wears off the blood vessels relax and release large amounts of blood to the starved, unnourished eye. Because of this action the blood vessels start to seem larger, which makes the red eye problem worse and creates a horrible cycle of needed more and more treatment.
Using whitening eye drops often and over a long period of time can make the condition worse and in some very rare but severe cases loss of vision can occur.
If you use whitening eye drops and have any concerns of the effects or have been on them for a long period of time and are having to use more and more, it is best to visit your eye doctor or eye clinic to get professional advice.
Samer Hamada is a distinguished consultant ophthalmologist and cornea surgeon performing eye surgeries at his practice, the Eye Clinic London. With nearly two decades’ experience, Mr. Hamada is recognised as a leading expert in the field of cataract, refractive lens exchange (RLE) and corneal surgeries.