If you have mild dry eye symptoms, you may be able to alleviate your symptoms by simply changing your environment. Perhaps you sit too close to a heating or air conditioning duct that is drying out your eyes, or perhaps cigarette smoke is irritating your eyes. Using a cool mist humidifier in your bedroom at night may help. A whole house humidifier can help put moisture back into the air in the winter.
It is also important to maintain a healthy, balanced diet with adequate hydration. There is some evidence that a healthy diet combined with omega-3 fatty acids such as those found in certain species of fish, and flaxseed oil, are important in maintaining the integrity of the tear film.
If your eyes do not produce enough tears, there are tear replacements, or artificial tears, available usually without a prescription. They are sold in most drug stores and grocery stores. If your symptoms are mild to moderate, putting artificial tear eye drops into your eyes up to four times a day may help to alleviate your symptoms. Artificial tears are available in multi-dose vials with preservative, and single-dose vials, which are preservative free.
If you require artificial tears more than four times a day, you may benefit from punctual plugs. The punctum is opening in the lower eyelid through which your tears drain. Placing small plugs in your punctum, or tear duct, can reduce tear drainage, making your tears last longer. Punctal plugs are quickly and painlessly inserted during an office visit and can provide significant relief in many cases.
Moderate to severe dry eye may require medical therapy. Prescription eye drops such as Restasis can help stimulate your tear glands to produce more of your own natural tears.
If you think you may have dry eye, please make an appointment to see one of our dry eye specialist at Medical Eye Care Associates. We will evaluate your symptoms, and design a treatment plan to make your eyes more comfortable.