Dry Eyes (cont.)
Andrew A. Dahl, MD, FACS
Andrew A. Dahl, MD, is a board-certified ophthalmologist. Dr. Dahl's educational background includes a BA with Honors and Distinction from Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT, and an MD from Cornell University, where he was selected for Alpha Omega Alpha, the national medical honor society. He had an internal medical internship at the New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center.
Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.
In this Article
- Dry eye syndrome facts
- What is dry eye syndrome?
- What is the impact of dry eye syndrome?
- What causes dry eye syndrome? What are the types of dry eye disease?
- What are the risk factors for dry eye syndrome?
- What are dry eye syndrome symptoms and signs?
- What tests do health care professionals use to diagnose dry eye syndrome?
- What is the medical treatment for dry eye syndrome?
- What types of medications are used in the medical treatment of dry eye syndrome?
- Can self-care treatments and remedies help alleviate dry eyes?
- What is chronic dry eye syndrome?
- Can surgery treat dry eye syndrome?
- What other therapies are used in the treatment of dry eye syndrome?
- What are the health complications of dry eye syndrome?
- What is the prognosis of dry eye syndrome?
- Is it possible to prevent dry eye syndrome?
- Find a local Eye Doctor in your town
Can self-care treatments and remedies help alleviate dry eyes?
To help alleviate the symptoms of dry eye syndrome, certain self-care tips at home may help. A humidifier puts more moisture into the air. With more moisture in the air, tears evaporate more slowly, keeping the eyes more comfortable. Both furnaces in the winter and air conditioning in the summer decrease the humidity in the air. Excessive air movement dries out the eyes. Avoid having excessive air movement by decreasing the speed of ceiling fans and/or oscillating fans. Large amounts of dust or other particulate matter in the air may worsen the symptoms of dry eye. In those situations, an air filter may be helpful.
Warm compresses and eyelid scrubs/massage with baby shampoo help by providing a thicker, more stable lipid layer. This is especially helpful if a person has meibomian gland dysfunction, rosacea, or blepharitis. The heat (careful, warm compresses should not be too hot; the compress should not be uncomfortable if placed on your wrist) warms up the oil in the oil glands, making it flow more easily; the massaging action helps get the oil out of the glands. The cleansing action decreases the number of bacteria that break down the oil.
Artificial tears and lubricating eye drops and gels (available over the counter) help provide more moisture and lubrication for the surface of the eye. They are typically used about four times a day, but they can be used as often as needed. Preservative free solutions are recommended if one wishes to use tears more than six times a day. There is no single over-the-counter drop that is best for everybody. Each individual will determine which drop provides the most relief from symptoms. Some drops may have a longer time effect than others.
Lubricating eye ointments are much thicker than eye drops and gels. Because ointments are so thick, they last much longer than eye drops and gels. However, because of their thickness, ointments may blur vision if they are used during the day. Therefore, they are typically used to lubricate the eyes overnight during sleep.
If the eyes are dry mainly while reading or watching TV, taking frequent breaks to allow the eyes to rest and become moist and comfortable again is helpful. Closing the eyes for 10 seconds every five to 10 minutes will increase comfort, as will blinking more frequently.
Taking a fish oil (or other high quality source of omega-3 fatty acids) supplement every day can often be helpful in alleviating symptoms of dry eye.
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