Dry eye is a common condition that can make the eyes red, painful, and irritated. You might have blurry vision or trouble wearing your contact lenses, or feel like there is something in your eye.
If you have any eye symptoms for more than a few days, see your doctor. Artificial tears are a common dry eye treatment you can buy without a prescription – but first, it’s important to make sure your eye irritation is not caused by a serious condition. A doctor can also recommend the right brand and form of artificial tears (liquid, gel or ointment) and tell you how often to use them.
Only one drug, cyclosporine (Restasis®) is approved for dry eye treatment. You need to use it twice a day for three to six months. Or your doctor might prescribe steroid eye drops. The medicine in these drops decreases inflammation, which can make your eyes more comfortable.
Dry eye and contact lenses
If contact lenses are the source of your dry eye, switching lenses can sometimes solve the problem. Some people need to wear their lenses less, or not at all. If this happens, your doctor can talk with you about other vision correction options.
Surgical procedures for dry eye
Surgical solutions for dry eye include plugging the tiny holes at the corners of your eyelids where tears drain out of the eye into the nose. An eye doctor can place tiny silicone or collagen plugs, called “punctal plugs,” in the holes temporarily to see if they solve the problem. If you have severe dry eye, you might have punctal plugs inserted permanently.
Another surgical option is to close the drainage holes for good. An eye doctor can do this in a simple procedure called “punctal cautery.” Both punctal plus and punctal cautery keep tears on the eye longer. This can make you more comfortable.
Some eye doctors recommend fish oil supplements for dry eye. Talk with your eye doctor to see if this might work for you.
Preventing dry eye at home
Depending on the cause of your dry eye, there are a few things you can do to prevent it or reduce symptoms.
- Wear glasses or sunglasses that wrap around your face. This can slow down the evaporation of moisture from your eyes. You can buy devices called “moisture chambers” that fit on your glasses and hold moisture in.
- Blink often, especially when reading, driving or using the computer. Ask your doctor if you should use eye drops before doing these activities.
- Control your indoor environment. Stay out of rooms that are heavily air conditioned or heated, and don’t sit near vents that are blowing air. Try a humidifier, air cleaner, or both in places you spend a lot of time. Removing dust and particles from the air and adding moisture can help your symptoms.
Talk with a doctor about your dry eye before trying any of these tips. Request an appointment with your Oregon Eye Specialists doctor or meet our caring, experienced physicians for personal help with dry eye.