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Most eye drop solutions are nothing more than saline solution. Buy an eye dropper and fill it with saline solution (that costs 99 cents a pint on sale) and use that when your eyes are dry. Much better than paying $3-$5 for 1 ounce of eye drops!
That same saline solution can also be used for nose drops to clear a stuffy nose. It's even safe to use on newborns, an age you wouldn't be able to use most over-the-counter decongestants.
You need to be extremely careful with putting anything in your eyes that is not sterile. An eye infection is not worth it.
Putting anything homemade in your eyes can be dangerous. If it isn't <i>absolutely sterile</i> you could get an infection.
Visine has a powerful astringent called 'tetrahydrozoline' which is why it is so effective. It also contains anti-microbial agents to maintain sterility. Saline solution is just a wash and has no medicinal effect and can easily become contaminated. It may flush out pollen and other irritants but it won't provide any other effect.
John and Sharon must be insiders to the eyecare industry. Indoctrinated! "Gotta buy our industry's drops and solutions--it's the ONLY way!"
I did exactly what Kathy suggests for years and years, not to save money, but rather because most eyedrops--as in John's example--contain bizarre chemicals. I never had a problem. (Not to mention taking a shower every day, which gets water in the eye... oh, and swimming in pools, lakes, rivers and oceans, and even getting gnats right in my eye, just like you have.)
Now, I've done this web search for a recipe to make my own saline because I'm having a new problem--my eyes are becoming sensitive in an allergic sense to all the chemicals that are in eyedrops and saline solutions, and I need to wet my eyes with something because I'm post-Lasik.
(The reason for my Lasik? I stopped being able to wear contacts because my eyes became allergic to the solutions all contact lenses come in. Thanks again, eyecare industry.)
What I'm finding is 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt (can use non iodized) in 8oz water (can use distilled). You may boil the solution as well as the droppers.
Add a pinch of baking soda if it's for nasal irrigation.
To make your own saline, use 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of baking soda!
I am getting the impression that some readers may be thinking about sterility of any solution as a lasting property. Yes, eye drops are sterile when you purchase and first open them but that can quickly change if the tip touches your eye. Most of these solutions would have some form of preservative to not spoil. I am no expert but the water we shower with is not sterile, yes? We are tolerant to a degree and one reader's suggestion of boiling the home-made solution sounds good. A quick search on sterilization should do it.
You can not just put in "1/4 to 1/2 tsp of salt" into water and get saline. Saline is 0.9% salt in water, which means it has a specific amount of salt per quantity of water. For every 100ml of water, there needs to be 0.9 g of salt, anything less and the solution will be hypotonic (less salt concentration than the body), anything more and it will be hypertonic (more salt concentration than the body). In addition, saline solution can only last a day or so when in contact with outside air- it will soon become contaminated. Yes, you can make your own saline, but it must contain a presise amount of salt and does not last long. Just so you know there are saline solutions that can be bought in a drugstore that are just plain saline (I am not talking about the contact solutions which contain anti-microbial and cleaning substances), and the solution is fairly cheap.
I used to get sore eyes from cats (well not from the cats directly - the eyes were mine) and home-made saline solution with a not particularly precise amount of salt in boiled water (that had of course cooled before I put it to my eyes) worked wonders every time. It doesn't need to be that precise to work great for allergic soothing.
I used this for a science fair project and it worked fine. 1/4 teaspoon iodized salt boiled into 1 cup of tap water.
Iodized salt has aluminum derivatives and anti caking agents in it. Tap water is pretty toxic also. Just the chemicals they bleach it out with would be a red flag for me. Boiling the chemical tap water does not help make it safe for the eye. Distilled water is cheap. They do NOT add any chemicals or minerals to distilled water. You're fairly safe with that type of water.