Though not a severe condition, dry eyes can have a significant impact on your quality of life. You may experience quicker eye fatigue, difficulty reading, and discomfort like a burning sensation or blurry vision. Fortunately, a wide range of treatments – from simple self-care to innovative prescriptions and therapies – are at your disposal to help you see more clearly and comfortably.
Understanding dry eye will help determine the best treatment option for you. Dry eye occurs when a person does not produce enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. These tears reduce eye infections, wash away foreign matter, and keep the eye’s surface smooth and clear. The condition is very common and is often chronic among older adults.
In some more minor cases, practicing a few of these simple self-care options can manage dry eye symptoms.
Blink regularly when reading or staring at a computer screen for a long time
Maintain adequate air humidity in your work and home environments
Wear AOA-recommended sunglasses to reduce sun and wind exposure
Take supplements with essential fatty acids
Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water each day to avoid dehydration
Find out if you can take an alternative medicine for any prescription that may have dry eye as a side effect
For mild cases of dry eye, over-the-counter eye drops are the best option. You will likely encounter two main options:
Low viscosity – these artificial tears are watery and provide quick relief with little to no blurring of your vision. However, due to the brevity of their effects, you may have to use these drops frequently for proper relief
High viscosity – these artificial tears are more gel-like and provide longer-lasting lubrication, though they can significantly blur your vision for several minutes as a result. For this reason, we recommend only using these before sleeping.
Many prescribed treatments approach treating dry eye differently. Depending on your diagnosis, your eye doctor can advise the best option for you.
Contact lenses – specialty contact lenses, called scleral or bandage lenses, deliver moisture to the surface of the eye
Antibiotics – if you have inflamed eyelids, your doctor may recommend antibiotics to either inhibit your oil glands from secreting oil into your tears or reduce inflammation
Anti-inflammatory drugs – these eye drops control inflammation on the surface of your eyes (cornea) using immune-suppressing medications like cyclosporine (Restasis), Xiidra, or corticosteroids
Autologous blood serum drops – for serious cases of dry eye that do not respond to other treatments, these eye drops combine a salt solution with a sample of your blood, processed to remove the red blood cell
Punctual plugs – tiny collagen or silicone plugs reduce tear loss by partially or completely closing your tear ducts, keeping your tears from leaving your eye too quickly
LipiFlow thermal pulsation – this device helps unblock oil glands by delivering a gentle, warm massage to your lower eyelid for about 15 minutes
Intense-pulsed therapy – this procedure uses light pulses to liquefy and release hardened oils that have clogged glands in your eyelids
Talk to your optometrist about dry eye treatment options designed to address the underlying cause of your condition.