Treatment for Dry Eyes


If you are worried about dry eye symptoms and they are causing a problem, consult your GP/optician who can carry out any necessary tests and check if any other health conditions are causing or adding to the problem.  Before eyes are treated from dry eye condition, the cause of the condition should be identified and if possible, changes should be made to remove the external cause or make the necessary changes to external factors.

There are various tests for dry eye.  Tear production tests can be carried out by placing filter-paper under the eyelids to examine the rate of tear production under different conditions and examining the quality of tears.  This is known as the Schirmer tear test.

Artificial Tears

Dry eyes are often treated with artificial tears, which lubricate the eye.  Solid lid inserts can also be placed in the eye to gradually release lubricants during the day.


Closing Tear Ducts

Eyes can also be kept moist by conserving the tears that are produced, instead of letting them escape.  This can be done by closing the small canal which allows tears to escape through the nose by filling it with silicone.  This, painless procedure, can also make artificial tears last longer.

Contact Lenses

If dry eyes are caused by contact lenses, it may be advisable to change your lenses and to stop wearing contacts until symptoms have reduced or disappeared.  Some people limit the wear of contact lenses to a few hours a day only.

Environmental Factors

These can be controlled to ensure that they are not exasperating the situation.  Exposure to dry air will dry your eyes.  If possible try to avoid air conditioning, extreme heat or extreme cold weather and extreme hot weather.  Air blown directly into the eye, will dry it out, and so try to avoid this.  If you cannot avoid these conditions, try to add moisture to the air.  For example, a humidifier can be used at work and at night while you sleep, or a pan of water placed on a radiator will add moisture to the air and prevent eyes from drying up.  Wrap-around glasses can prevent wind from getting into the eye from the sides and sunglasses will control the effects of sun exposure on eye dryness.  Goggles can be worn when swimming.  Excessively warm or smoky rooms and hair dryers can be avoided. 

Medications

It may be necessary to stop taking certain medications, which have dry eye as a side effect.  Alternatively, dry eye symptoms can be tolerated by using artificial tears.  If you suffer from dry eyes ensure that you inform your eye care provider of all medications you are taking.  It may be possible to change medication, to some that do not cause dry eyes.

Surgery

Eyelid problems can cause dry eyes and can be surgically treated in a procedure known as oculoplastic surgery.  This can be used to treat anatomic abnormalities or an incomplete blink.

Ointments & Drops

If eyes are itchy, they can be treated with ointment or antibiotic drops may be prescribed.

Diet & Supplements

Omega-3 fatty acids are known to decrease dry eye symptoms and can be found in sardines, cod and salmon.  Alternatively, supplements high in Omega-3 may be recommended.  It is also helpful to drink lots of water so that the body is not dehydrated.

It can also help not to irritate the eyes by rubbing them too much and it is very important to blink as this spreads tears more evenly over the eye surface.  It is also advisable to take regular breaks during intense visual concentration such as when reading. 

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