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Dry eye syndrome treatment

A person with dry eye syndrome doesn’t make enough tears naturally, so will need to take steps to treat and manage the condition to help avoid discomfort.

A doctor may suggest treatment for an underlying cause of dry eye syndrome, such as a medical condition or inflammation.

Special lubricating eye drops may be recommended or special eyewear.

In other cases, a procedure to unblock tear ducts may be suggested.

Self-care at home

To help alleviate your symptoms from dry eye syndrome (DES), you may want to try these self-help tips at home.

  • A humidifier puts more moisture in the air. With more moisture in the air, your tears evaporate more slowly, keeping your eyes more comfortable. Both central heating in the winter and air conditioning in the summer decrease the humidity in the air.
  • Excessive air movement dries out your eyes. Avoid having excessive air movement by decreasing the speed of ceiling fans and/or oscillating fans.
  • Hot compresses and eyelid scrubs or massages with baby shampoo help by providing a thicker, more stable lipid layer. This is especially helpful if you have inflammation of your eyelids or problems with the gland in your eyelid that makes the lubricant, sebum. The heat warms up the oil in the oil glands, making it flow more easily; the massaging action helps get the oil out of the glands. The cleansing action decreases the number of bacteria that break down the oil.
  • Artificial tears and lubricating eye drops and gels help to provide more moisture and lubrication for the surface of your eye. They are typically used about four times a day, but they can be used as often as needed. Preservative-free solutions are recommended if you wish to use tears more than six times a day.
  • Lubricating eye ointments are much thicker than eye drops and gels. Because ointments are so thick, they last much longer than eye drops and gels. However, because of their thickness, ointments may blur your vision if used during the day. Therefore, they are typically used to lubricate the eyes overnight while you are asleep.
  • If you notice your eyes are dry mainly while you are reading or watching television, taking frequent breaks to allow your eyes to rest and become moist and comfortable again is helpful.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on February 21, 2016

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