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Treatment for Dry Eyes

Ocular Lubricants

The first line of treatment and relief for dry eye is the use of ocular lubricants.

These supplement the natural human tears and provide a substitute coating to protect and nourish the surface of the eye.

Ointments are also effective but are usually applied only at bedtime as they often cause temporary blurring of vision.

Ocular lubricants can be used as frequently as needed or as directed. A common regimen is four times a day, more often if needed.

If ocular lubricants alone do not relieve the symptoms, tiny “plugs” can be inserted into the tear drainage holes (punctum) which are located on the inner upper and lower eyelids. These “plugs” work by keeping more tears (and artificial tears if you are using eye drops) on the surface of the eye for longer by decreasing their drainage from the eye, thereby increasing eye comfort.

Punctal plugs

punctual-plugA punctal plug is a small medical device that is inserted into the tear duct opening (punctum) of the eyelid to block off the tear duct. Sometimes, a person with a dry eye will have excess tears running down their cheek, which may seem confusing.

This happens when the eye isn’t getting enough lubrication.

The eye sends a distress signal through the nervous system for more lubrication. In response, the eye is flooded with tears to try and compensate for the underlying dryness.

However, these tears are mostly water and do not have the lubricating qualities or the rich composition of normal tears. The use of punctal plugs is an effective step in treating moderate to severe dry eye that is unresponsive to artificial tear drops and ointments alone.

The tears drain into the nose via the tear ducts and blocking this outflow is a reasonable strategy to keep the tears in the eye for a longer time.

A cure?

There is no cure for this condition. In most cases i.e. Age or disease related, the condition is chronic and must be constantly treated. It is therefore important to follow your treatment recommendations.

If dry eye is caused by environmental or occupational factors, (e.g. Computer work or exposure to hot or smoky air), simply reducing or eliminating the cause can help your dry eye condition. When inside, a humidifier helps to add moisture to dry air caused by air-conditioning or heating. When outside, wear sunglasses. Wrap-around sunglasses can help keep out irritants such as wind and dust.

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While reading, watching television or working at the computer, remember to blink frequently. Take regular breaks to rest your eyes. Keep hydrated – drink 8 to 10 glasses of water a day. Nutritional supplements containing essential fatty acids may also be of benefit; however, this has not been proven in clinical trials.