Dry eyes are uncomfortable and may also be unhealthy. Figuring out why your eyes are dry is the first step in treating the problem. Your doctor may want to test both the amount and quality of your tears. The goal in treating dry eyes is to keep your eyes moist.
Depending on the reason your eyes are dry your doctor may suggest one of these treatments:
• Fix your lids – if you have a condition that keeps your eyes from completely closing, your eye doctor may suggest plastic surgery on your eyelids to fix the problem. Some eyelid conditions can also be treated with ointments, drops, or oral antibiotics.
• Add tears – If your dry eyes are mild, you may be able to treat them with over-the-counter drops or artificial tears. Your eye doctor can recommend the best drops for your eyes. Check the label to see if your drops contain preservatives. If they do, you can use them safely up to four times a day. Drops without preservatives can be used as often as you like. Just keep track of the expiration date and be sure to replace them on time. Drops that promise to remove redness can actually make your dry eyes worse, so be sure to avoid them.
If you live in a dry climate, or your environment tends to dry your eyes, use your drops before your eyes feel dry, especially if you are going into a situation that you know usually causes your eyes to feel dry. You can also use lubricating ointments for the eyes. These ointments usually cause blurred vision, so they are best used only at bedtime.
• Conserve tears – Another method to reduce dry eye symptoms is to help your body keep your tears on your eyes for a longer time. Tears normally wash across the eye and then drain away through tear ducts that empty into the back of the nose. Your doctor may recommend partially or completely closing these tear ducts to keep your tears in your eyes longer. This can be done by inserting tiny silicone plugs in the ducts. These plugs can easily be removed at a later date.