How is dry eye treated?
Eye drops, called artificial tears, are similar to your own tears. They lubricate the eyes and help maintain moisture. Artificial tears are available without a prescription. There are many brands in the market, so you may want to try several to find the one that suits you best.
Preservative-free eye drops are available for people who are sensitive to the preservatives in artificial tears. If you need to use artificial tears more than every two hours, preservative-free brands are recommended.
You can use the artificial tears as often as necessary-once or twice a day or as often as several times an hour.
CONSERVING YOUR TEARS
Conserving your eye’s own tears is another approach to keeping the eyes moist. Tears drain out of the eye through a small channel into the nose (which is why your nose runs when you cry). Your ophthalmologist may close these channels either temporarily or permanently. Closure conserves your own tears and makes artificial tears last longer.
Tears evaporate like any other liquid. You can take steps to prevent evaporation. In winter, when indoor heating is used, a humidifier or a pan of water kept on the radiator adds moisture to the dry air. Wrap-around glasses may reduce the drying in some states. Some people with dry eye complain of scratchy eyes when they wake up. This symptom can be treated by using an artificial tear ointment or thick eye drops at bedtime. Some people may find relief by supplementing their diets with omega-3 fatty acids, which are found naturally in foods like oily fish (salmon, sardines, and anchovies) and flex seeds. Ask your ophthalmologist if you should incorporate oral supplements of omega-3 fatty acids into your dry eye treatment regimen, and if so, in what form and dosage.