What can I do about dry eyes?
Once your optometrist knows what is causing your dry eye problems, they can give you advice on how to manage them. There are four main ways to help your dry eyes.
1. Avoid using make-up and keep your eyelids clean
Eyeliner, particularly when put on the rim of your eyelid, may block the meibomian glands that produce the oily part of your tear film. This may cause the area around your eyes to be inflamed. It is also important to make sure you keep your eyelids clean, particularly if you have blepharitis.
2. Be aware of your environment
There are some environments that make your eyes feel more dry. High temperatures and central heating may increase the evaporation of your tears and make your eyes feel drier, as can draughts and air conditioning.
You may find it helpful to reduce the temperature of your central heating at home and try to avoid draughts near your face, for example by directing car air vents away from your face. Some people find that using a humidifier to put more water into the air may help to slow down the evaporation of their tears.
If you are out on a windy day you may find it useful to wear glasses or sunglasses to protect your eyes from the wind. Try to avoid smoky atmospheres as this may irritate your eyes.
3. Use eye lubricants
There are several types of eye lubricants available. Most of them aim to lubricate your eyes by giving them extra moisture. They are available as drops, gels or ointment and most are available without a prescription. If you find the drops wash out of your eye too quickly you may find the gel type better as they are thicker and so stay in your eye for longer.
Ointment is generally used for people whose eyes dry out at night because they do not fully close their eyes. Ointments are usually only used at night because they are sticky and cause blurred vision.
Eye lubricants do not contain any drugs and so you can use them as often as you like. However, some contain preservatives which may make your eyes sore. If you are using them more than six times a day you should use preservative free drops
4. Have treatment to stop the tears draining away
Your tears drain away into your nose through four drainage channels in your eyelids. Small plugs called punctum plugs can be put into the holes in your lower eyelids to stop the tears draining away and help the tears to stay in your eye for longer. Your optometrist can give you advice on this.