4 Treatments for Chronic Dry Eyes

May 7th 2016

While chronic dry eye disease isn't curable, it is usually easy to treat. Once you've developed a routine for treating your dry eyes, stick to it, as lapses are likely to cause the dry eyes to return. To determine the best treatment for you, consult an optometrist or ophthalmologist to get advice on how to treat your chronic dry eyes.

Artificial Tears

Artificial tears are the first treatment to try if you have chronically dry eyes. You can buy these as over-the-counter medication and use them to supplement normal tear production. However, avoid any eye drops that advertise the ability to remove redness from the eye, as these can make a dry eye condition worse. Use preservative-free artificial tears if possible, since the preservatives may irritate your eyes further. People tend to respond differently to eye-drop formulations, so try several brands until you find one that does what you need. Use the artificial tears even when your eyes don't feel dry to keep them moist at all times.

Tear Duct Blockage

Sometimes, tear ducts drain tears away from the eye too aggressively. Blocking the tear ducts can help to keep tears in the eye where they're needed. You should try temporary, dissolving plugs first; if they work, you can use more permanent plugs. Often, dry eye sufferers find that these plugs take away their need to rely on artificial tears.

Prescription Eye Drops and Ointments

An inflammation along the edge of the eye that prevents oil ducts from secreting the proper amount of oil into your tears can cause chronic dry eyes. Antibiotics can control both this inflammation and any inflammation on the eye's surface. Often, these antibiotics are administered in the form of prescription eye drops, though sometimes they are given as pills or ointments. Eye drops containing corticosteroids are often prescribed if dry eyes are the result of a corneal abrasion. In addition, prescription eye drops to increase the flow of tears are available.

Lifestyle Changes

Studies show that ingesting omega-3 fatty acids, such as those in fatty fish or fish oil, can help with tear production. People with blepharitis, a type of eyelid inflammation, often find that washing their eyelids with baby soap or applying warm compresses to their eyes can provide a lot of relief and start tears flowing. Sometimes, people develop a dry eye syndrome from working at a computer too long and failing to blink; reminders to keep blinking can help restart normal tear flow, as can adding extra humidity to the environment.

Conclusion

Your eyes produce tears continuously to keep them lubricated and moist. If tear production stops for any reason, you experience dry eyes. When this occurs chronically, the irritation, stinging and discomfort can become overwhelming. Dry eyes can result either from insufficient production of tears or from poor-quality tears that don't have a proper balance of water, mucus and oil. Over a period of time, chronic dry eyes can result in permanent eye damage. Most treatments for chronic dry eyes focus on maintaining proper tear levels.

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