LEADING OFF: What Your Patient Might Ask You

Common Patient Question: “Do I really need to buy the exact brand of artificial tears you prescribe, or will any artificial tear work?”

  • The Answer: Contrary to the belief of many patients, not all OTC artificial tears are created equal!
    If your patient compares the ingredients of the artificial tear you prescribed to one that he randomly chose, he may see similarities between the two in the active ingredient. But the active ingredient is only part of the story. It’s the inactive ingredients that can make brand name drops more effective.
  • The Take-Home Message: Generic drops can be more appealing to our DED patients, due to these products’ reduced cost. As a result, it is critical optometrists provide patient education at the DED patient’s appointment on why, specifically, they prescribe a certain artificial tear.

By taking this approach with each and every DED patient to whom optometrists prescribe a specific artificial tear, optometrists not only increase the likelihood of patient compliance, they also increase the likelihood that their DED patients will achieve symptomatic relief. This, in turn, reinforces to these patients the value in seeing their optometrists for their ocular dryness, among other ocular and/or refractive conditions. OM

The purpose of this column is to offer clear and succinct answers to common patient queries. If you would like to submit a common patient question you receive, please send it to James Thomas, editorial director, at

Dr. Garlich practices in Boston and produces 20/20 Glance ( ), a newsletter to keep optometrists up to date on clinically relevant news.