Objective To compare the efficacy of two forms of eye care (hypromellose and Lacri-Lube combination vs polyethylene/Cling wrap covers) for intensive care patients. Design Randomised-controlled trial. Setting University affiliated, tertiary referral hospital. Patients and participants One hundred ten patients with a reduced or absent blink reflex were followed through until they regained consciousness, were discharged from the facility during study enrolment, died or developed a positive corneal ulcer or eye infection. Interventions All patients received standard eye cleansing every 2 h. In addition to this, group one (n=60) received a treatment combining hypromellose drops and Lacri-Lube (HL) to each eye every 2 h. Group two (n=50) had polyethylene covers only placed over the eye to create a moisture chamber. Measurements and results Corneal ulceration was determined using corneal fluorescein stains and mobile slit lamp evaluation, performed daily. No patients had corneal ulceration in the polyethylene cover group, but 4 patients had corneal ulceration in the HL group. Conclusions Polyethylene covers are as effective as HL in reducing the incidence of corneal damage in intensive care patients.