1st Generation Lubricants

Used to add bulk to the tears 1st generation lubricants are widespread, usually very cheap and can be useful for mild dry eyes. Historically they were licensed as medicines so could only be obtained from your doctor. 

Two of the most common are:

  • Hypromellose or hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC)
  • Carboxymethylcellulose or sodium carmellose

Hypromellose in particular is still widely prescribed but this is due to a prescribing lag rather than them being considered especially effective. The biggest issue is the short length of action with any beneficial effects often wearing off very quickly.

As they tend to be older brands, they are often supplied in standard bottles containing a preservative. Due to their popularity newer versions are still being produced and these often come in more modern preservative-free bottles.

So for mild dry eyes these 1st generation lubricants may be appropriate. 

However, if they do not work or for more severe dry eyes 2nd generation and 3rd generation lubricants are more appropriate.


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