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    How to Say Bye to Dry Eye

    Reviewed By Ninel Z Gregori, MD
    Edited By David Turbert
    Published Jun. 21, 2021

    Dry eye happens when the eye doesn't make enough tears or makes poor-quality tears. As a result, the surface of the eye isn't lubricated enough. In other words, there’s a lack of balance in the tear-flow system.

    How Does Dry Eye Happen?

    Many factors can unbalance the system:

    • Health conditions can affect your ability to make tears. These conditions include Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and collagen vascular diseases.
    • Environmental triggers, such as pollution or the weather, play a role.
    • Medicines like these can sometimes cause dry eye:
      • antihistamines
      • some glaucoma medicines
      • asthma medicine
      • birth control pills
      • hormone replacement therapy
    • Computer use and contact lens wear can make dry eye worse.

    Dry Eye Tips Video

    Dry eye is a complex disease that has many causes that often overlap and interact. For many people, a few simple lifestyle changes can resolve dry eye. If your eyes are still irritated after trying these tips, see your ophthalmologist.

    Which Dry Eye Treatment Is Best for You?

    Because many things can cause dry eye, a variety of treatments are available. For most people with occasional or mild dry eye, over-the-counter eye drops (artificial tears) can help. Some people swear by the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish and fish oil supplements. If your symptoms are persistent and more serious, your ophthalmologist can help. She can offer other options or switch medicines that may be causing dry eye symptoms.

    Here are some dry eye treatment options, depending on the cause and severity of your dry eye:

    • Antibiotic to reduce eyelid inflammation. Inflammation along the edge of your eyelids can keep oil glands from releasing oil into your tears.
    • Prescription eye drops with cyclosporine or lifitegrast may control inflammation of the cornea.
    • Eye inserts that work like artificial tears. These tiny inserts, placed between your lower eyelid and your eyeball, dissolve slowly and release an eye lubricant.
    • Tear-stimulating drugs. These drugs are available as pills, gel or eye drops.
    • Tear-stimulating devices. A device inserted in the nose stimulates a nerve to produce tears.
    • Eyedrops made from your own blood. These are called autologous blood serum drops.
    • Tiny silicone plugs that close your tear ducts to reduce tear loss.
    • Light therapy or eyelid massage to unblock oil glands.
    • Surgery to treat an eyelid condition called ectropion.