Drops, gels and ointments: Tips for trying new things
General drop-shopping tips
Don’t bother asking which one is “best”. The best drop is the one that works for you.
Look up the active ingredient(s) of drops you have already tried. There is not much point trying others with the same actives, unless they are in a higher concentration (thicker).
Sometimes ingredients that actually matter are quietly tucked away in the inactive ingredients list.
Preservative-free: Yes, you should be using preservative free drops. But just because a drop is preservative-free doesn’t mean it's any good, or will last longer, or feel better! It just means it doesn’t have a toxic preservative. You need a lubricant that will make you comfortable and last a reasonable time.
Please don't succumb to the temptation to use vasoconstrictors ("redness relievers"), which have a well documented and nasty "rebound redness" effect, and also try to avoid over the counter allergy drops, which have harmful preservatives.
Severe symptoms? No drop helps? Useful questions to consider
Are you using drops because of a medical need for lubrication, or are you using them mostly for comfort? Are you clear on the difference? If you're using them for comfort, and it's not working or you're using them more and more frequently, it may be time to consider other tools and approaches. If you have severe symptoms, for example, it may be time to look into dry eye glasses. If you are already maxed out on dry eye glasses and other treatments, maybe it's time to talk to your doctor about PROSE or sclerals.
Do ALL drops irritate your eyes? Talk to your doctor about this and see if you can find out why. Are you seeing a pattern, particularly amongst drops with a particular ingredient? If nothing is working, perhaps it's time to talk to your doctor about serum drops.