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Dry Eye

My eyes water, how can I have dry eyes?

Dry eyes are the decline in the quantity or quality of the tears bathing your eye.  In other words you can have dry eye if you don’t make enough tears, and you can have dry eye if the tears you make don’t “do the job”. If you have poor quality tears your eye will make extra tears to compensate, making the eye water.

If addition to watery eyes, you may feel a sandy, gritty sensation.  Other symptoms include blurred vision which is cleared by blinking, or itchy, red eyes.  This can develop as the lacrimal gland, the tear producing gland, slows down over time.  Environmental factors such as wind and exposure to chemicals are a few causes of dry eye.

There are two basic concepts to treating dry eye: produce more tears or retain the tears that are made. Artificial tears have been a mainstay in the treatment of dry eye. Most artificial tears attempt to supplement your own tear film.  Preservatives in artificial tears have been implicated in making dry eye worse, so preservative free drops are recommended.  Avoid brands that have "redness-reducer" in the name. An additional treatment is punctal plugs, which close off “the drain” for the tears and help you retain more tears. High-quality fish oil, hot compresses and lid hygiene also play an important role in maintaining tear film quality and eyelid health.

A few medications available on the market to treat inflammatory dry eye include Restasis or Cequa (cyclosporine) and Xiidra (lifitegrast), which all help decrease inflammation. Decreasing the inflammation helps the lacrimal gland produce more tears.  Other innovations on the market include a nasal spray and amniotic membranes.

Dry eye is a chronic syndrome, which means that it usually must be treated for a long time or for life. Fortunately, with new medications and treatments, this common eye disease can now be treated more easily than before.

NOTICE: click here for OTC drop recall info.

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