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Treatment for Dry Eyes

Updated on April 1, 2013
Dry eyes
Dry eyes

Dry, Itchy Eyes

Dry eyes can become uncomfortable over time, causing them to be itchy and watery.

Suffering from dry eyes or dry eye syndrome can be caused by a number of reasons. Also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, dry eye syndrome is generally when the tear film which lubricates the eye doesn't produce enough moisture.

The eyes need a sufficient amount of tears to keep the eyes healthy. Tears are a combination of moisture, oils, mucus (to spread evenly) and antibodies to fight infections. Without the moisture and oils the eyes become dry and without the antibodies, they are prone to infections

What Causes Dry Eyes?

There are a number of reasons for why someone has dry eyes.


As you get older you don’t produce as many tears as you used to. It naturally comes with aging, with women being more prone after the menopause.


Medication can have side effects and one may be dry eyes. If you are taking a particular medicine and start to develop dry eye syndrome, there could be a connection.

Some medicines which could cause this include:

  • The contraception pill
  • Antihistamines
  • Beta-blockers
  • Anti-depressants

Illness or Disease

Some diseases could cause the effect of dry eyes. Sjogren’s syndrome and rheumatoid arthritis are examples of illnesses which may cause the problem.

Eye injury or eye surgery could also lead to dry eyes in the long run.

Contact Lenses

Contact lenses are worn over the eye, floating on the tear film as an alternative to glasses. Many people who wear contact lenses complain of having dry eyes, as it is thought the lens absorbs moisture.


Sometimes your environment or lifestyle can cause this problem. It could be down to central heating or air conditioning (at work for example), or from working with computers or looking at a TV screen for long periods of time.


Blepharitis is an infection which causes inflamed eyelids. Having dry eyes means you are prone to this infection (other eye infections include conjunctivitis), but blepharitis also makes eyes feel dry.

Symptoms of Dry Eyes

  • A feeling that there is grit in the eye
  • Itching and sore (red eyes indicate infection)
  • Watery eyes
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to bright lights

Eye drops
Eye drops

How to Treat the Condition

If you have dry eyes you can see an eye specialist who will advise you.

Depending on how severe the problem is, you will be prescribed eye drops and given eye care advice.

Artificial tears are eye drops you can put in as and when required. These lubricate the eyes acting as the role of real tears and can be a real help.

Eye ointment can be applied to the eyes at night as an extra lubricant if the artificial tears are not enough.

Medication is sometimes prescribed to help if there is an infection, or if the eyes are causing great problems surgery could be the solution.

Oily fish
Oily fish
Medication for dry eyes
Medication for dry eyes
Heated eye bags
Heated eye bags

Fish Oils

Omega 3, 6 and 9 oils are great for healthy eyes. They contain essential fatty acids to support the function and help keep the moisture balance.

Omega 3 oil capsules can be purchased from health food stores and taken each day. A 1200mg strength capsule is slightly higher and recommended for dry eye syndrome.

Compliment your diet by eating foods rich in omega 3, 6 and 9 every day. Foods rich in this include:

  • Oily fish, such as mackerel, sardines and pilchards
  • Flax seeds
  • Oils such as flax seed, linseed oil, wheat germ oil, vegetable oil
  • Leafy greens
  • Nuts and grains
  • Sesame seeds
  • Beans, such as kidney beans and lima beans
  • Citrus fruits

Eye Bags

Using a warm compress on the eyes can help improve the moisture and oil balance.

Do this every morning for 10 – 15 minutes to improve the comfort as you wake. You can use a warm (clean) face cloth, warm tea bags or purchase a special eye bag from your optician which heats up in the microwave.

Gel to cleanse eyes
Gel to cleanse eyes
Wipes for cleansing
Wipes for cleansing


Blepharitis is an infection causing inflammation of the eye lids. Those exposed to the bacteria stand a chance of contracting it. Dry eye syndrome sufferers are particularly vulnerable.


Symptoms of blepharitis include:

  • Feeling of grit in the eye
  • Itchy eyes
  • Red eyes or eyelids
  • Crusting on the eye lids and eyelashes
  • Blurred vision
  • Cysts or Styes

How to overcome Blepharitis

Taking antibacterial eye drops (such as Chloramphenicol for conjunctivitis) will help to fight against the infection. These can be purchased over the counter from a pharmacist or prescribed from your doctor.

Antibiotic tablets may also be prescribed to help if severe.

Good eye care and hygiene is vital for any infection. This means keeping hands clean and touching eyes less often. Use special wipes to clean the eyes throughout the day and a cleansing gel prescribed from your optician.

Use your cleansing gel after your compress. Apply it to a clean cotton bud or cosmetic sponge and run it along the inside of the lids.

Always ensure hands are washed before and after, and buds or sponges are disposed of or sterilized to avoid the infection spreading.

How to Apply Eye Drops Correctly


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    • Emma Harvey profile image

      Emma Kisby 5 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      I'm glad this hub was useful. Thanks for stopping by, froggyfish :)

    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 5 years ago from Central United States of America

      Great hub. I use the last type of getting those eye drops in...can't do it otherwise. Thanks for good suggestions here too.

    • Emma Harvey profile image

      Emma Kisby 5 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Hi healthylife2, I'm sorry to hear you suffer with this condition. It can make life very uncomfortable.

      My husband has this condition and finds working (with computers) and driving difficult, but he uses the treatments and drops to help.

      If surgery was the last option, I'm sure it would be considered and discussed with a professional. Good luck if you go with that decision.

    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Helpful information as I suffer from severe dry eyes. The drops don't always help and I take omega 3 already. Surgery is also an option for people and I might consider it.

    • Emma Harvey profile image

      Emma Kisby 5 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Thanks carter06 - Taking the omega oils is a real help for eyes, and good if you don't have a lot of it in your diet.

      Thank you for the votes :)

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 5 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Great hub & well laid out info here...have had trouble with one eye for years & will try some of your suggestions like Omega 3 caps...lots of votes


    • Emma Harvey profile image

      Emma Kisby 5 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Thanks Riverfish24 and Saloca for your comments and support :)

    • Saloca profile image

      Saloca 5 years ago from Liverpool, UK

      Great hub, nice job!

    • Riverfish24 profile image

      Riverfish24 5 years ago from United States

      Fabolous research and well written hub Emma! Extremely useful and informative. Great job!

    • Emma Harvey profile image

      Emma Kisby 5 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Hi krsharp05 - Yes fish oil is great for all sorts and it's good for eyes. If you don't like fish you can take tablets.

      I hope this info helps your Grandmother!

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 5 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      Interesting hub about treating dry eyes. I've never heard of eating fish and changing your diet but it makes sense. My grandmother struggles with dry eyes. I'm going to give her this information. Thanks for sharing! -K

    • Emma Harvey profile image

      Emma Kisby 5 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Hi cactusbythesea, sometimes we just accept these things without realizing there could be a solution. However, if your eyes were uncomfortable in your contacts you may be better without them.

      Thanks for reading.

    • cactusbythesea profile image

      cactusbythesea 5 years ago from Seattle

      Great hub with useful tips. I ultimately gave up wearing contacts because my eyes felt so dry all the time. Now I wish I had spent a little more time researching it. Anyway, thanks for sharing this hub!

    • Emma Harvey profile image

      Emma Kisby 5 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Thanks unknown spy!

    • unknown spy profile image

      IAmForbidden 5 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

      Interesting! I like the way yo present your hub for better understanding.

    • Emma Harvey profile image

      Emma Kisby 5 years ago from Berkshire, UK

      Thanks dinkan53. I believe the tannin in caffeine is good for dry eyes and some people place warm tea bags on them for a soothing effect.

      Thank you for you comment, much appreciated :)

    • dinkan53 profile image

      dinkan53 5 years ago from India

      Read from an article few days back about properties of caffeine and how it worked as a miracle for millions of dry eye sufferers. You’ve performed an excellent job in this topic! Rated up and useful.