Dry eye is sometimes a temporary condition, although it can be chronic with symptoms that never fully improve. This condition makes your eyes dry and uncomfortable, unable to make enough tears to maintain lubrication. Chronic dry eye often occurs because of an underlying problem, such as one affecting the eye glands or skin. Allergies can also cause dry eye. Whatever the root cause of your eye dryness, you have many dry eye treatments available to you. Below, we explore some of these available over-the-counter or through your eye doctor.
7 Types of Dry Eye Treatments
There are seven main types of dry eye treatments, with multiple options within each of these categories. These seven types include:
- Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs
- Prescription medications
- Eye inserts
- Medical procedures
- Natural treatments
- Alternative therapies
- Lifestyle changes
Before trying any of these treatments for your dry eyes, first see your optometrist or ophthalmologist for diagnosis. The eye doctor will provide a recommendation for the treatment of your condition.
Over-the-Counter (OTC) Drugs
OTC drugs are one of the most popular treatment methods for dry eyes. These drugs include artificial tears and ointments that you use directly in your eyes. Artificial tears add moisture to your eyes but may require reapplication throughout the day. Ointments can cloud your vision, although they coat your eyes better and provide longer relief than artificial tears. Because of the cloudiness they cause, ointments are best used before sleeping.
When you visit your eye doctor for dry eye care, they may provide prescription medication for your treatment. These options include oral medications and eye drops.
The focus of many prescribed treatments is on eyelid inflammation reduction. Swollen eyelids sometimes keep the oil glands from supplying oil for your tears. Without this oil, your tears quickly evaporate, leading to dry eyes. Some antibiotics can help stimulate oil production in your eye glands.
Other medications are anti-inflammatory. These include cyclosporine and lifitegrast, also called Restasis and Xiidra. These two prescription eyedrops suppress the immune system to enable your eyes to properly lubricate themselves.
Eye inserts are tiny tubes of medication you put into your eye like contact lenses, but beneath the lower eyelid—the insert releases moistening medication throughout your day.
Your eye doctor may recommend a medical procedure to correct your dry eyes and provide lifelong benefits. These medical procedures include:
- Closing tear ducts using silicone plugs
- Wearing specialized contacts that hold moisture on the eye’s surface
- Clearing blocked oil glands using LipiFlow thermal pulsation
Natural Treatments for Dry Eye
Several natural dry eye treatment options include:
- Applying a warm, wet cloth for five minutes
- Massage eyelids with baby shampoo or other mild soap
- Taking Omega-3 supplements
- Castor oil eye drops to reduce tear evaporation
Alternative therapies for chronic dry eye symptom reduction include intense-pulsed light (IPL) therapy and acupuncture. Acupuncture is a popular choice, believed to help some people because of its pain and inflammation reduction. IPL therapy is also used for acne and rosacea symptoms, but provides some symptom relief for people with dry eyes, too.
Lifestyle Changes for Dry Eyes
Lifestyle changes you can make to possibly improve your dry eye symptoms include:
- Wearing sunglasses with side shields to reduce tear evaporation
- Blinking more often when reading, watching TV or working on a computer
- Using a cool-mist humidifier
- Drinking more water each day
- Avoiding smoke and refrain from smoking yourself
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