Dry Eyes And What You Can Do About Them

If Your Eyes Are Dry

Your Eyes Need Moisture

What Your Tears Do

  • They soothe the surface of your eyes & protect them from things like debris & infection.
  • Each time you blink, they go over your eyes, then drain into the inner corners of your
    eyelids to the back of your nose.
  • If you don’t make enough good-quality tears, your eyes can be dry & irritated.

Dry Eye Syndrome

  • The second most common kind of dry eye happens because your body doesn’t make
    enough tears.
  • This is called dry eye syndrome or keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS).
  • Many things can cause it.
  • Depending on what that is, it can go away on its own or last a long time.

Possible Cause: Age

  • The glands that make tears don’t work as well as you age, so you don’t make as many.
  • Also, your eyelids begin to sag & that can break the seal against your eyeball that
    helps keep in moisture.

Possible Cause: Certain Illnesses

  • One is Autoimmune diseases, when your immune system attacks parts of your body,
    can affect your body’s ability to make tears & cause dry eyes.
  • Examples include lupus & rheumatoid arthritis, as well as Sjogren’s syndrome, which
    attacks saliva & tear glands.

Possible Cause: Eye Surgery

  • Dry eyes can be a side effect of cataract surgery & LASIK or PRK surgery, which
    correct vision problems.
  • The nerves that help you make tears can be damaged during these procedures.
  • Talk with your doctor about eyedrops & other things that can help.
  • For most people, it gets better as your eyes recover.

Evaporative Dry Eye

  • If your tears don’t have enough oil in them, they can evaporate (get absorbed into the air)
    before your eyes get enough moisture, the most common causes of dry eyes.
  • This often happens when the glands that give your tears their oily texture are blocked.
  • Also called Meibomian gland dysfunction, it’s treated with warm washcloths & lid scrubs that clear away the dead skin, oil & bacteria that can build up & plug the glands.

Tear Duct Infection

  • Also called dacryocystitis, this happens when a tear duct,the small tube that runs down the
    length of your nose & connects to your eyelid, gets blocked & bacteria get in the area.
  • It’s most common in infants, but it can happen at any age.
  • Symptoms include pain, redness,swelling, too many tears, discharge from your eye & fever.
  • Antibiotics are the most common treatment, but some people need minor surgery to clear
    it up.


  • If you have symptoms of dry eyes and take medication, read the label.
  • Some drugs, such as antihistamines, beta-blockers & some anti-depressants,
    can affect your tears & dry out your eyes.
  • Talk with your doctor to find out if this is a problem for you.

What Can Make It Worse: Low Humidity

  • If there’s not a lot of moisture in the air, in a heated or air-conditioned room or in
    an airplane, for example,dry eyes can get even more irritated.
  • And a lot of wind can do it, too, that includes riding a bike without protective eyewear.

What Can Make It Worse: Too Much Screen Time

  • Looking at a computer or phone screen for long periods of time can cause problems
    because you’re less likely to blink and get moisture over your eyes.

What Can Make It Worse: Contact Lenses

  • They sit inside the tear film, so when that’s dry, it can make it difficult & uncomfortable,
    even impossible to wear them.
  • Talk to your doctor if you’re having trouble with your contacts: It may help to change
    solutions or use, lenses made from a different material.

What You Can Do: Artificial Tears

  • These aren’t the kind your toddler uses when he’s trying to get away with something.
  • These tears come from the drugstore as drops or ointment.
  • Some have a chemical that can stop working if you use them too long, but not all have
  • Talk to your doctor about what may work for you.

What You Can Do: Change Your Diet

  • Among other health benefits, flax oil & flax oil capsules also may help keep your eyes


  • If your eyes are dry, it’s a good idea to stay away from some things that can irritate them,
    like hair dryers, air conditioning, wind, smoke & some chemicals.
  • Use a humidifier & take regular breaks if you spend long hours at a computer.
  • During sports or outdoor activities, use swim or ski goggles or other protective eyewear
    that helps you keep moisture around your eyes.

When to Call Your Doctor

  • If dry eyes are new to you and you’ve had them for more than a few days, talk with your
  • It’s also a good idea to check with him before you use over-the-counter artificial tears.
  • In most cases, dry eyes are more of an annoyance than a health danger, but it’s always
    best to be sure.


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