How To Choose The Best Artificial Tears

Artificial tears, also known as eye drops or ocular lubricants, are liquid or gel medicines used to help with dry or irritated eyes. Most artificial tears are sold over-the-counter and don’t require a prescription for you to make a purchase. But, how will you know what to get and which are the best artificial tears for your eyes?

There’s a lot of useful knowledge that can help you make the right choice. I want to help you understand what there is to know about artificial tears and how to choose the right ones for yourself.

**Below, you'll find more detailed reviews, but you can also click links above to check current prices and read customer's reviews on Amazon.


Who Should or Shouldn’t Use Artificial Tears?

Artificial tears aren’t made for everyone. If you have an eye irritation, especially from dry eyes, you can benefit from using eye drops. However, they aren’t meant to treat eye infections or other diseases of the eye.

Unless you have poor vision because of dry eyes, they also won’t help to improve your vision. Actually, many artificial tears that are a bit thicker can actually make your vision slightly blurry for a short time after you apply the medicine.

Artificial tears are only designed to lubricate your eyes if your tear ducts aren’t doing the job well enough already. If your tear ducts are working fine and your eyes are not dry, artificial tears won’t be of much help to you.

​How to Choose the Best Artificial Tears?

​When you’re looking for the right artificial tears, these are the characteristics you need to consider:

  • ​Quality of the ingredients versus price

​Not all artificial tears are made from the same ingredients. While a higher price doesn’t always indicate a better product, in the case of eye drops it can hint at better quality ingredients. You probably won’t find any eye drops that are bad for your eyes, but there are some that are made with ingredients which are more helpful than others.

  • ​Preservative or preservative-free

​Generally, there are two categories of artificial tears: those with preservatives and those without preservatives. Those with preservatives can be used for multiple days without any concern of the formula developing bacterial growth.

Even if you open and close it many times, it should be safe from harmful infectious bacteria. However, preservatives might also cause irritation in your eyes. Anyone with severely dry eyes or those with any sensitivities can have issues with preservatives.

Artificial tears without preservatives are usually single-application products. They come in packs that hold many tiny vials of eye drops, so that you will never leave an open vial sitting for more than a day. These are far less likely to irritate your eyes, and they can usually be used over the course of the day after you open a vial.​

  • Causes of eye dryness

​Dry eyes can be caused by quite a number of factors. Each should be examined separately when you’re determining which artificial tears to use. The cause of your dry eyes can affect which product will be the most useful in your specific case.

​It’s also important to look at how severe your dry eyes are. The drier they are, the more drops you will probably need and the better quality they should be. Different types of artificial tears exist for a variety of levels of eyes dryness as well as a variety of causes.

  • Other eye conditions

​If you have an existing eye condition or irritation other than dry eyes, if you wear contact lenses or glasses, or if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, it’s best to talk with a doctor about artificial tears before using them. Sometimes a pre-existing medical condition in the eyes can react poorly to the chemicals in eye drops.

It’s also not known what effects artificial tears can have on pre-born babies or if they can be transferred in any way through breast milk. For the sake of safety, consulting a doctor is wise.

  • Type of eye lubricant (viscosity)

​The viscosity of the artificial tears matters a great deal when you’re making your final choice. This will affect how thick the liquid is and how it is applied. Some eye drops can be as thin as water, while others are actually ointments rather than drops. They all qualify as artificial tears and each type is useful for different dry eye conditions.

​Top 5 Best Artificial Tears Reviews

1. Allergen Multi-Pack 65ml Refresh Tears

These artificial tears are great for mild to moderately dry eyes. If you spend a lot of time working on the computer or your just need quick eye relief, this is a good choice for you. The artificial tears come in 5 different bottles: 4 larger bottles with 0.5 ounces each and one smaller bottle with 0.17 ounces in it.

Allergen Refresh Tears have a low viscosity, so they’re easy to apply quickly whether you’re on the go or at home. Unfortunately, they’re not very long-lasting and are not effective for very dry eyes. If you are looking for long-lasting eye relief, these are not necessarily the best choice for you.

Overall, the Refresh Tears can provide a lot of comfort for anyone with Dry Eye Syndrome, allergies, or other milder dry eye conditions. They are not uncomfortable to apply and might actually bring quicker relief than some other formulas because of their low viscosity.


  • Bottles hold a large amount of eye drops
  • It’s easy to keep separate bottles wherever you need them most
  • Drops do not blur your vision when you apply them


  • Bottles are stiff and can be hard to squeeze drops from

2. Rugby Sterile Artificial Tears Lubricant Eye Ointment

Dry eye ointments like this one are best for those with very dry eyes who either apply eye drops too frequently each day without much relief or who want a more consistent and long-lasting product. After every application of this ointment, you can expect relief for hours without having to apply anything else.

The problem with this ointment is that it tends to blur your vision for a short time after you apply it to your eyes. Most people use it at night to keep from interfering with their daily routine needs like driving or reading, so if you need daytime relief you may not find it from this ointment.

This Rugby brand eye lubricating ointment comes in a 3.5gram tube with a plastic application tip. It’s easy to apply, although it will take a little longer to apply than a liquid eye lubricant. Because of its high viscosity, you can use less of this ointment at a time without compromising your results.


  • Works well overnight to keep your eyes moist and lubricate while you sleep
  • Great for severely dry eyes; keeps them well lubricate and comfortable
  • Long-lasting after each application
  • Although it’s designed for humans, it also works effectively for animals


  • Blurs vision after you apply it; better for nighttime use

3. Tears Naturale Free Lubricant Eye Drops Single Use Vials

Although these artificial tears are packaged as single-use vials, you can actually reclose them to use throughout the day if you don’t finish it all at once. They provide relief for many types of dry eyes, and are appropriate even for sensitive eyes as they don’t contain any preservatives. The vials are both easy to open and comfortable to use.

Tears Naturale is not a good brand to use at night, because the effect it gives is not long-lasting enough for you to have a moist eye in the morning. It’s good during the day, although you may have a dry eye feeling a few minutes after you apply it that requires you to blink a bit to spread the lubricant around properly.

The value for money on this artificial tear is great, as they are some of the lowest priced eye drops per vial. Even though they are economical, the drops don’t burn your eyes when you apply them and are great for carrying around with you on the go.


  • Easily portable in single-use vials
  • Vials are re-sealable and can be used once than once during the same day
  • Great for short-term eye lubrication of mild-moderately dry eyes


  • Tears Naturale is not a good night-time eye lubricant

4. Systane Ultra Lubricant Eye Drops High Performance Preservative-Free Vials

These temporary relief eye drops are great for those who have had eye surgery and those with dry eye disorders. They provide instant relief to you when you apply them, which makes the application quick and easy for anyone. It won’t take a chunk out of your day to open up the vial and apply the eye drops when you need them.

One big problem with these artificial tears is that they come in single-use, non-sealable vials. That means even if you don’t use all of the drops in one application you won’t be able to save them for later. Older versions of this product did have re-sealable vials, but the newer updated vials eliminated this feature.

As a preservative-free artificial tear, it’s easy for most people to use these eye drops without any irritations. They can also be used if you have contact lenses. While most people remove their contacts before applying the eye drops, you don’t have to remove the lenses and can still get the full benefits with your contacts still in. You may have to do a bit more blinking to spread out the liquid, though!


  • Very comfortable application without any burning or irritation of the eyes
  • One of the #1 artificial tears recommended by doctors and pharmacists


  • Vials are truly single use and cannot be reclosed for later use

5. Thera Tears Lubricant Eye Drops

Many artificial tears are single-use and can be a bit inconvenient if you want to keep track of them, but these Thera Tears eye drops come in a preservative-free in the eye 1 oz. bottle that can be kept by your bedside, in your bag, or anywhere else you need them the most.

They’re especially good for those who need to look at computer screens for hours each day, as they will keep your eyes from drying out too much from the screens.

Unfortunately, the claim of being fully preservative-free in the eye is a bit misleading. They do contain a type of preservative that dissolves inside the eye without causing any chemical changes or imbalances. So, while they do not have traditional chemical preservatives, these artificial tears are not entirely preservative-free.

Another advantage Thera Tears artificial tears have over some other brands is that they are not as thin and watery as some of the leading brands, so they won’t just run out of your eyes as soon as you apply the drops. They are easy to apply and have a fairly long-lasting effect on most people.


  • Large bottle with eye application plastic tip
  • Long shelf life of close to 2 years per bottle
  • Great for anyone who works in front of the computer for long hours


  • Not truly preservative-free, but uses a specific preservative said to disappear in your eye


In my opinion, the Tears Naturale are some of the best artificial tears available on the market. They have much more effective ingredients than many of the generic brands at drug stores and they are truly preservative-free, so they won’t irritate your eyes at all. Tears Naturale is good for mild-moderate dry eyes, not for severely dry eyes, but these artificial tears do have a long-lasting effect that is very soothing for a lot of different causes of dry eyes.

The single-use vials of Tears Naturale can be reclosed, meaning you can save the small amount and use it later on in the day instead of just throwing it away. This creates more value for your money and will help you get the most out of your artificial tears.

What do you think of my guide? Have you had any experience with the types of artificial tears I’ve talked about? I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments below!

Anna Smith

Hi there ! I’m Anna Smith, chief editor at Healthankering. I'm a proud mother of three passionate about health tips, beauty and ways to live healthier with more energy ! We start Healthankering to provide advanced material about not only the best ways to get healthy, but also to entertain and create a great community. Welcome aboard !

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