Your ophthalmologist can use artificial tears as a method of treating your dry eye. These are eye drops that are similar to your own tears. You can use artificial tears as often as is needed. There are many different brands and can be bought without a prescription.
If you use artificial tears more than six times a day or are allergic to preservatives, it is recommended to use preservative-free drops. This is because if the eye drops that have preservatives are used a lot, these chemicals may start to irritate your eyes.
Your ophthalmologist may suggest blocking your tear ducts. This makes your natural tears have a prolonged stay in your eyes. Tiny silicone or gel plugs (called punctal plugs) may be inserted in your tear ducts. These plugs can be removed later as needed. Your ophthalmologist could also recommend surgery that permanently closes your tear ducts.
Treating dry eye culprits
Your ophthalmologist may recommend:
- prescription eye drops or ointments
- warm compresses on the eyes
- massaging your eyelids
- certain eyelid cleaners.
Dry eye prevention tips
- Try not to use a hair dryer, if possible.
- Stay away from warm rooms. In the winter, add moisture to the air with a humidifier.
- Protect your eyes from drying wind by wearing wrap-around glasses outside.
- Talk to your ophthalmologist about adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet for dry eye relief. They are found naturally in oily fish (such as salmon, sardines, tuna, trout, and anchovies) and in flax seeds. Omega-3 fatty acids can also be used as a dietary supplement (pill or tablet).
- If you wake up with dry and scratchy eyes use artificial tear ointment or gel-type eye drops just before you go to bed.