Preserved and non-preserved artificial tears and rewetting drops are often used before, after and sometimes during contact lens wear to address ocular discomfort and ocular surface disease and to minimize the impact of wearing contact lenses.

“I have long found it interesting that modern artificial tears are contraindicated by regulatory bodies, considering that they are formulated with relatively safe high molecular weight preservatives, which are also used in rewetting drops that are indicated for use with contact lenses,” says Andrew D. Pucker, OD, who conducted a study looking further into the safety profiles of both products.

He discovered that neither artificial tears nor rewetting drops were associated with severe adverse events, reporting that both are safe and effective to use with contact lenses.

Dr. Pucker reviewed the literature to find that artificial tears and rewetting drops are generally safe and effective and have a minimal impact on the ocular surface when used with contact lenses. This finding held especially true if the products were preservative-free, as they tended to minimize eye irritation. If preserved drops are used, Dr. Pucker recommended selecting preservatives that have demonstrated better safety profiles compared with products containing benzalkonium chloride or thimerosal.

Not only do artificial tears and rewetting drops seem to be safe for use with contact lenses, they may also help keep contact lenses cleaner and improve ocular surface health, Dr. Pucker added.

Pucker AD. A review of the compatibility of topical artificial tears and rewetting drops with contact lenses. Cont Lens Ant Eye. May 12, 2020. [Epub ahead of print].