Downside to anti-red eyedrops

I've heard about becoming addicted to nasal sprays, but what about eyedrops? I have severe dry eyes along with allergies, and I need a dose of eyedrops first thing in the morning and several times throughout the day. Otherwise my eyes get horribly red, swollen and irritated.

You may well be experiencing rebound redness from overuse of eyedrops. The same ingredient that is found in many nasal sprays is in eye products that help get the red out.

Oxymetazoline is a long-acting topical drug that constricts, or shrinks, blood vessels. That is how it relieves congestion in the nose. But people who use nasal decongestants for allergies, colds or sinus problems are warned to use such products for only three to five days. After that they may experience rebound congestion as the medicine wears off.

The same thing can happen in the eyes. Rebound redness occurs when the blood vessels dilate after the effects of the medicine fade. It can take several days (or sometimes longer) for this effect to gradually disappear. You may be better off with artificial tears rather than anti-red drops.

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When does sunscreen expire? Should I replace my sunscreen every year?

Some sunscreens come with expiration dates, so check the label. The Food and Drug Administration requires all sunscreens to remain stable for three years. If we assume (conservatively) that a year goes by between manufacture and sale, that still gives you at least two years' margin of safety.

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Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist and Teresa Graedon is an expert in medical anthropology and nutrition. www.peoplespharmacy.com

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