Dry eye happens when your eyes don’t make enough tears to stay wet, or when your tears don’t work correctly. This can make your eyes feel uncomfortable, and in some cases it can also cause vision problems.
Dry eye is common — it affects millions of Americans every year. The good news is that if you have dry eye, there are lots of things you can do to keep your eyes healthy and stay comfortable.
The most common symptoms of dry eye syndrome are:
Other common symptoms include:
- watery tearing
- stringy mucus
- eyes get tired faster than they used to
- difficulty reading or sitting at the computer for long periods
- blurry vision
- feeling of having sand in your eyes
Am I at risk for dry eye?
- Are age 50 or older
- Are female
- Wear contact lenses
- Don’t get enough vitamin A (found in foods like carrots, broccoli, and liver) or omega-3 fatty acids (found in fish, walnuts, and vegetable oils)
- Have certain autoimmune conditions, like lupus or Sjögren syndrome
What causes dry eye?
Normally, glands above your eyes make tears that keep your eyes wet.
- Your glands don’t make enough tears to keep your eyes wet
- Your tears dry up too fast
- Your tears just don’t work well enough to keep your eyes wet
How will my eye doctor check for ?
Your doctor can check for dry eye as part of a comprehensive dilated eye exam. The exam is simple and painless — your doctor will give you some eye drops to dilate (widen) your pupil and then check your eyes for dry eye and other eye problems
What’s the treatment ?
Treatment for dry eye usually depends on what’s causing your symptoms. There are a few different types of treatment that can ease your symptoms and help keep your eyes healthy.
Over-the-counter eye drops. The most common treatment for mild dry eye is a type of eye drops called artificial tears. You can get these eye drops without a prescription. There are also over-the-counter moisturizing gels and ointments that may help your eyes feel better.
Prescription medicines. If your dry eye is more serious, your eye doctor may give you a prescription for medicines called cyclosporine (Restasis) or lifitegrast (Xiidra). These medicines are both types of eye drops that can help your eyes make more tears.
Lifestyle changes. If something in your life or your environment is causing your dry eye, or making it worse, your doctor may suggest changes to help protect your eyes.
Pay attention to the situations that are most likely to cause your symptoms
- Avoid air blowing in your eyes. Don’t direct hair dryers, car heaters, air conditioners or fans toward your eyes.
- Add moisture to the air. In winter, a humidifier can add moisture to dry indoor air.
- Consider wearing wraparound sunglasses or other protective eyewear. Safety shields can be added to the tops and sides of eyeglasses to block wind and dry air. Ask about shields where you buy your eyeglasses.
- Take eye breaks during long tasks. If you’re reading or doing another task that requires visual concentration, take periodic eye breaks.
- Be aware of your environment. The air at high altitudes, in desert areas and in airplanes can be extremely dry. When spending time in such an environment
- Position your computer screen below eye level. If your computer screen is above eye level, you’ll open your eyes wider to view the screen.