Dry eye is a common condition in which the eyes don’t produce enough tears or the right quality of tears to properly lubricate the eyes. The condition can lead to inflammation, abrasion of the corneal surface, corneal ulcers and in severe cases vision loss. Dry eyes can also make everyday activities such as reading, watching TV, and driving more difficult. Fortunately, in most cases, dry eyes can be managed successfully with the right treatment solutions. Below is a look at several effective dry eye treatments:
There are several effective natural treatments that can help with dry eyes such as applying a warm compress to your eyes, taking omega-3 supplements, blinking more frequently, cleaning and massaging your eyelids gently with a mild soap, using a humidifier, and investing in a pair of high-quality sunglasses.
Sometimes lifestyle changes are in order too. For example, wearing your contact lenses less often, cutting down on cigarette smoking, adjusting the medications you take and incorporating more foods that are rich in vitamin A into your diet are all helpful at mitigating the effects of dry eyes.
Solutions, Medications, and Procedures
- Artificial Tears – Regular use of artificial tears can relieve symptoms by keeping your eyes lubricated. However, this solution is most effective for people with only moderate symptoms of dry eye.
- Prescription medications – Prescription eye drops can come in oral or eye drop form and are primarily used to treat inflammation of the eyelids, since inflamed eyelids can cause tears to evaporate more quickly. Some medications are also used to stimulate oil production in the glands around your eyes. The oil also helps prevent tears from evaporating too quickly.
- Steroid eye drops – Often used in conjunction with artificial tears, steroid eye drops can be used as part of a long-term dry eye treatment strategy as they address the problem of inflamed eyelids that use of artificial tears alone doesn’t address.
- Punctal plugs – Punctal plugs are tiny devices inserted into the tear duct of your eye to stop the fluid from draining. This helps keep the surface of the eye moist and comfortable. It is considered a minor surgical procedure and is done on an outpatient basis with the patient remaining awake during the procedure.
- Opening the meibomian glands – Dry eye is often caused by inadequate oil secretion from the meibomian glands situated along the eyelid margins. When the openings of these glands get clogged, the oil needed to keep tears from evaporating too quickly isn’t effective. To treat this problem, your doctor can perform a procedure called meibomian gland expression. While this procedure is usually done in-office, it can be quite uncomfortable since a good deal of pressure must be applied on the eyelids to get the glands functioning properly again.
- Bandage contacts – Special contact lenses designed to protect the surface of the eye and stop moisture from escaping are another effective method for treating dry eyes especially if your condition is caused primarily from losing tears too quickly.