What are the symptoms of dry eyes?

Dry eyes can cause a gritty, sandy sensation, burning, stinging and itching. Some people notice their eyes sticking shut when they wake up. Sometimes a dry eye can actually seem watery. The eye can be producing poor quality, reflex tears, which don’t do the job of keeping the eye lubricated.

What can be done for dry eyes?

The first line of treatment is usually artificial tears. There are several excellent brands on the market. One person may like one type better, while another may find a different brand works better. If you are using artificial tears more than 4times/day, a non-preserved tear should be used. Ask your eye doctor to make some recommendations. If your eyes are severely dry, a humidifier in rooms that you spend a lot of time may be helpful. There are now also prescription drops (Restasis) that can alleviate dry eyes.

What if the drops don’t work?

Doctors can now place tiny collagen or silicone plugs in the drainage canals of your eyelids. These plugs prevent the tears from draining down and out of your eyes. Collagen plugs last about 2 weeks. Generally they are a good first step. If the patient notices improvement for a few days, then the symptoms return, permanent silicone plugs can be inserted. While these plugs are removable if necessary, they do not dissolve on their own and don’t require replacing.

Who gets dry eyes?

Virtually anyone is prone to dry eyes, although women get the condition more than men. It gets worse the older you get. There is no known cure.

What causes dry eyes?

Various systemic diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or Sjogren’s Syndrome can cause dry eyes. Environmental conditions, some prescription and over the counter medications, and wearing contact lenses also contribute to dryness.

What kinds of medications cause dry eyes?

Antihistamines, such as Benadryl, anti-depressants, and some blood pressure medications can contribute to dry eye problems. Oral contraceptives are another common culprit, as are alcohol and marijuana. There are countless other over-the counter and prescriptions; ask your eye care practitioner about specific ones.