Review: Systane Nighttime Ointment vs Gel Drops for dry eyes & corneal erosion

Review: Systane Nighttime Ointment vs Gel Drops for dry eyes & corneal erosion

Dry eyes, ugh!

But as someone who has had two cornea transplants (due to keratoconus), two wedge resections, two cataract surgeries, and is getting older… I guess dry eyes were to be expected. 

My latest eye issue: corneal erosion, caused by dry eyes. So far a mild case, not as bad as some people experience.

The doctor said it should be fine if we can keep my eyes moist and prevent my eye lid from sticking to my cornea at night. It would smooth back down and heal. 

Systane Nighttime Ointment

The solution?

My doctor recommended using Systane Nighttime Ointment every night on an ongoing basis. It’s available over-the-counter.

After a month my eyes felt better. It worked. Not only for the corneal erosion – my eyes felt better overall.

But… it is an ointment. It comes in a tube. You basically have to pull your eye lid down, try to squeeze out the right amount, get it in the right spot, try to keep it under the lid while you close your eye, and make your way to bed either with your eyes closed or with really blurry vision.

In the morning, you wake up with goop all over your eye lashes and blurry vision until you splash some water over your eyes and blink it out. 

While it is effective, I really didn’t want to continue using it indefinitely. So I began looking for alternatives, which led me to Systane Gel Drops.

Systane Gel Drops

Systane’s website says their Gel Drops “provide the convenience of a drop with the protection of a gel.”

I find that to be a pretty accurate description. 

The Gel Drops are not as thick as the Nighttime Ointment, there’s minimal blurry vision after application. 

They are easy to use, just like a normal eye drop (trust me, if you are new to using eye drops, it does get easier with time).

And the drops work through the night. After several months of use, I have not had any re-occurrences of corneal erosion.

Sometimes there will be a small amount of the gel on my eyelids in the morning, but it’s nothing compared to using the ointment. 

The Gel Drops have also worked well during the day if my eyes begin feeling dry, though I primarily use it at night.

Using the Gel Drops every night and occasionally during the day, a 10ml bottle lasts well over a month.


At at publication time, the price of both the Nighttime Ointment and the Gel Drops range between $13 and $17, depending on the store. 


Both CVS and Walgreens have generic versions of the Systane Nighttime Ointment. 

CVS has a generic version of the Systane Gel Drops. In my search I could not find a generic of the Gel Drops at Walgreens. 

Walmart and Target do not appear to have generic versions of either. 


Alcon, the makers of Systane eye drops, offers coupons directly, though you do have to sign up to receive their emails.

At publication time, they offer a $3 coupon on any purchase of Systane eye drops of 10ml or more. 

The same coupon is available through CVS’s ExtraCare program, which also must be signed up for to access the coupon. 


Systane Gel Drops and Systane Nighttime Ointment both work and are helpful for dry eyes. They both get a rating of 10 out of 10.

That said, for ease of use, the Gel Drops when out.

But I’ll keep the Nighttime Ointment nearby in case a thicker, more persistent, application is ever needed. 

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