Major Differences Between Eye Drops & Lubricants for Prosthetic Eyes

Taking good care of prosthetic eyes is no laughing matter. These ocular implants require a certain number of eye drops & lubricants as one part of an ongoing care schedule for as long as the recipient is alive.

If you have had a prosthetic eye implanted due to irreversible damage to your natural eye, you will surely be aware that itching and dryness of these implants are pretty common. These probably even cause you pain or unease at times, especially if the weather is dry and humid.

For these symptoms, a number of prosthetic eye lubricants are available for purchase OTC (over the counter) without a doctor’s prescription.

As you know, everyone’s physiology differs. For example, someone you met at your ocularist’s office might not require an array of eye drops for prosthetic eyes despite living in the same city and facing similar problems!

What’s going on? And how are eye drops different from eye lubricants which are prescribed by doctors?

Scroll down for some clarifications!

Eye drops, lubricants, and more: why and when are they used? 

To understand the basic underlying concept, you must know a bit about your eyeball.

The eyeball has a ‘Tear Film’ to protect itself from dirt influx, trauma, infections, and more.  This has 3 layers, each of which plays a part in natural prosthetic eye cleaning that happens numerous times per day on its own.
They are the following:

  • The first layer is just a thin film of mucus. Mucus helps in natural cleaning and keeps microbes at bay.
  • The second is a slightly thicker aqueous layer that is prone to dehydration in certain climatic conditions. This aqueous layer is (obviously) made up of water and constitutes more than 70% of the total mass of your eyeball.

This is where most eye drops for prosthetic eyes function. Also, this area has to be looked after as it is prone to dehydration.

  • The third layer is the outermost one and is oily in texture. This is because it’s completely made up of lipids which are essentially oil-based fats found throughout the body and help in lubrication.

Any damage to this layer can cause pain in the natural movement of your prosthetic eye.
These 3 layers work together to keep your eyeball and the implant in good shape.

So, how do eye drops differ from lubricants? 

Now that you have a better idea of your eyeball’s anatomy, you’ll quickly understand the differences between them.

  • Very simply put, eye drops are used to prevent dehydration or drying out of the second layer.

Most such drops contain a mixture of glycerin, cellulose, povidone, polyvinyl, or some other form of alcohol, and preservatives mixed in a base of purified water. All it does is rehydrate the prosthetic eye and ensure that the itching sensation ceases.
Thanks to the povidone present, these eye drops can also cure several common bacterial infections.

  • On the other hand, a prosthetic eye lubricant helps in better lubrication. It ensures that the outermost oily layer stays in top shape. If the lipid levels drop even marginally, these lubricating drops will immediately take effect and restore them to their natural levels.

Unlike the former category, these are mineral-based drops topped up with some Vitamin E. Common compositions include sterile alcohol-based lubricants, sunflower oil extracts and also aloe vera gel in minute quantities.

How do I know which drops and lubricants I need? 

The best way to determine this is to consult the ocularist the next time you visit the clinic for your regular prosthetic eye care & cleaning sessions!
However, if you do not have such a session lined up, please follow the steps mentioned here.

  1. If the brands you have been using for lubrication and hydration are no longer working, you might have to engage in a bit of trial and error.

Purchase different brands (but retain the same composition) and start using them instead. This should go on for a maximum of 3 days.
If you are still noticing issues, please consult the doctor. Never use any eye drops and lubricants that have different compositions without the ocularist’s express advice.

  1. If extreme and unexpected weather conditions are triggering dry eyes, you may consider using a few more drops every day. As soon as the weather normalizes, revert to your previous schedule.
  1. Finally, do note that aging implants require significantly more care. Polishing the artificial eye regularly goes a long way in reducing any untoward events.