A Review of the Compatibility of Topical Artificial Tears and Rewetting Drops with Contact Lenses

Cont Lens Anterior Eye. 2020 Oct;43(5):426-432. doi: 10.1016/j.clae.2020.04.013. Epub 2020 May 12.


Purpose: The purpose of this work was to review the safety and efficacy of topical artificial tears and rewetting drops with contact lenses (CLs) and the ocular surface.

Methods: Manuscripts were obtained by searching PubMed with the term "contact lens" and "artificial tears" or "rewetting drops" or "lubricant". Recovered texts were searched to find additional references. No date exclusions were applied, though only articles written in English were included.

Results: Preserved and non-preserved artificial tears and rewetting drops are commonly used before and after, and sometimes directly with CLs to treat CL discomfort, or ocular surface disease and to minimize the impact of wearing a CL. Data suggest that all of these products are generally safe and effective and have a minimal impact on the ocular surface when used with CLs, especially if the drops are preservative free. Data likewise suggests that comfort drops may keep CLs cleaner and improve ocular surface health.

Conclusion: Over-the-counter, topical, artificial tears and rewetting drops are safe and effective to use with CLs. Non-preserved drops should be used when possible to avoid eye irritation; however, if preservative-containing drops are used, preservatives that have demonstrated safety profiles should be selected rather than drops containing benzalkonium chloride or thimerosal.

Keywords: Artificial Tears; Contact Lenses; Preservatives; Rewetting Drops; Safety.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Contact Lenses*
  • Dry Eye Syndromes* / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Lubricant Eye Drops
  • Ophthalmic Solutions
  • Tears


  • Lubricant Eye Drops
  • Ophthalmic Solutions