Smorgasbord Health Column 2021 -Over the counter eye drops and possible side-effects by Sally Cronin

There are several reason why someone might suddenly feel dizzy and it is important to have it checked out if it goes on for more than a day or two. It could be an inner ear problem, low blood pressure or something very simple, such as over use of eye drops.

Many of us use eye drops that can be bought over the counter or have been prescribed for us by a doctor to treat an infection or following eye surgery.

They are kept in the medicine cabinet and some people use every morning to treat red or tired eyes or to add some extra blue or sparkle. However, as with any product we put into our bodies there can be side effects. And although we think we are just bathing our eyes, the chemicals in the eye drops are entering our bloodstream.

A couple of years ago, I was asked to film a segment for a television programme, and I noticed that I looked a bit bleary-eyed (too much blogging no doubt). So I bought some eye-drops over the counter and used for the next week and then once or twice a week after that. My eyes were certainly bluer and had an extra sparkle!

After about a week, I noticed that I was getting dizzy spells, and they would last most of the morning. It was almost like vertigo and I became concerned that something was wrong. It take supplements such as Vitamin D and the herb Echinacea daily at this time of the year and also B-Complex occasionally. I had not reacted to those before and thought perhaps it might be because I needed to have my eyes tested.

This I did immediately, and my eyes were absolutely fine, and after a thorough examination I knew that there was nothing sinister happening behind the eyes too.

I then kept a full diary of what I was taking or using for a week and I identified that the days I was using the eye drops first thing in the morning where the days that I felt dizzy by mid-morning for several hours.

I stopped using the drops and have not had a problem since. This led me to take a look at some of the more common eye drops sold over the counter for cosmetic and allergy relief, and also those that are prescribed for conditions such as glaucoma.

Whilst there are some eye conditions that require the use of drops for their treatment and should not be stopped without consulting your doctor, the over the counter variety do need to be carefully monitored for side effects.

Whilst mild dizziness might be an inconvenience it can also be dangerous if you are driving or working with dangerous machinery. Vertigo is also very unpleasant and when it becomes persistent is also dangerous in certain circumstances.

If you have been using eye drops cosmetically or for allergies and have been experiencing either reaction, then I suggest you discuss the matter with a pharmacist, to find an alternative or you take other measures to keep your eyes clear of allergens and sparkling.

Here is a couple of remedies that I have used for many years for me and pets (when not taking the short cut to buying drops)

Some remedies for tired or irritated eyes.

  • Heat 8 oz of distilled water with a teaspoon of salt until the salt dissolves, and then cool to lukewarm. Gently wash the eyes with a cotton wool ball soaked in the solution and repeat two or three times a day. The salt is anti-bacterial and is great for use as a therapy for other parts of the body too..
  • To relax and freshen tired eyes pour boiling water over chamomile or green tea bags and when cool place over the eyelids for ten minutes and repeat twice a day.
  • You can add three or four drops of rosewater to a cup of water and use this to wash over and around the eyes and some people do use rosewater drops as an alternative to over the counter products.
  • Then there is the old sliced cucumber remedy.. placed over your eyelids and lying down for ten minutes to relax does help but I usually drop off…

Allergens and our eyes.

I a number of posts on hay fever and other allergic reactions in the Health Column but with seasonal allergies it can be difficult to pinpoint the culprit.

Part of the problem is that pollens and other allergens, such as cat dander, are attracted to us like magnets and we carry them around on our clothing, hands and particularly in our hair.

When it comes to the eyes one of the common contact area is our pillows. Overnight our head and more importantly our hair moves around over the surface of the pillow and then we bury our faces in it.

It is a pain to wash your hair every night especially if it is on the long side… but you can brush it thoroughly and also wear an eye mask. Changing your pillow case every day and the towels you use to wipe your face is also a good idea.

Foods that can cause an allergic reaction that results in eye irritations.

The most common suspects are dairy, eggs, nuts, soy and shellfish but milder reactions can also come from consuming certain meats such as pork, spices such as garlic and mustard and products used in industrial foods such as gelatine and MSG (monosodium glutamate)

It is a complicated business trying to find out which particular food is the culprit and the only way that I have found that is effective is to keep a food diary for two weeks.. Note the days that you have a reaction in the form of sneezing, eye irritation and possibly stomach upsets and isolate the food from that day.

Stop eating those particular foods for a week and if you are clear of reactions then re-introduce them one a time and a week apart.

One of the other issues is the accumulation of an allergen in your system. For example I can eat strawberries everyday when they are in season and on the fifth or sixth day I begin to sneeze and my eyes become itchy.. Eat once a week and I don’t have a problem.

Usually the food or fluid culprit is the one you are eating everyday or at least three times a week. Keeping the food diary will help identify that ingredient.

Foods that provide the nutrients for healthy eyes.

There are a number of nutrients that are essential for eye health and include Vitamins A, C and E, Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Zinc, Lutein and Zeaxanthin.

Best foods to provide these are salmon and other cold water fish, Turkey, seeds and nuts, Carrots and Sweet Potatoes, Strawberries and blueberries, dark green vegetables such as kale, spinach and Brussel sprouts.

All these foods are easy to incorporate regularly into your diet and in the long term will help protect your eyesight.

I will be going into more detail about specific allergies and other conditions where food can be a trigger as we move through the new series.

Here is a link to some of the reported side effects of eye drops.. Always read the small print on the product or ask your doctor when he prescribes the medicated variety what you can expect. Potential risk of Over the Counter Eye Drops

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here::Sally’s books and reviews


Thanks for visiting and I am always delighted to receive your feedback.. stay safe Sally.