Having dry eyes can be very irritating and result in blurry vision. The most common treatment for dry eye is using eye drops daily or multiple times a day. Both over-the-counter and prescription eye drops can be used to treat dry eye. Over-the-counter options are artificial tears that help lubricate the eyes. Prescription drops can help manage the inflammation that leads to dryness in the eyes.
Having a dry eye can present with many different symptoms based on how the eyes respond to the lack of tears.
If the eyes are dry and the tears evaporate quickly, the biggest symptoms will be intermittent blurred vision that improves with frequent blinking, irritation that improves with blinking or rubbing the eyes, and the feeling of something inside the eyes.
If the eyes are dry but have sufficient tear production, the tears are poorly made and will run down the cheek and cause watering, blurred vision, and swelling of the eyelids.
Diagnosing dry eye will involve both a comprehensive eye exam and potentially additional testing to evaluate the health of the tear film and eyelid glands.
Imaging the tears and glands can identify if there is atrophy or loss of these glands or if there is a lack of production.
Tear film analysis can be done to determine how long it takes for the tears to begin to evaporate off of the surface of the eye.
After this eye appointment, the doctor can diagnose and begin treatment for dry eye syndrome.
The first type of treatment that is usually begun for dry eyes is to use over-the-counter eye drops.
These eye drops are called artificial tears or lubrication eye drops. Many different versions and types are available and sold under different brand names like Systane, Refresh, Blink, and BioTru.
Using these artificial tears should help keep the surface of the eye moist and prevent the symptoms that occur when the eye is too dry.
For mild symptoms, eye drops may be used once or twice a day. More severe symptoms can require using the tears up to four times per day.
When over-the-counter eye drops are insufficient treatment and symptoms persist or worsen, prescription eye drops may be used to treat dry eyes.
There are three main prescription eye drops that are marketed for dry eye treatment and to reduce the inflammation in the eyes.
Restasis, Xiidra, and Cequa all can be used to treat dry eyes. Each of these prescription eye drops has a different mechanism of action.
While these drops differ in the mechanism of action, each of these treats dry eye by reducing the amount of inflammation in the eyes and eyelids.
When there is less inflammation, the eyes are able to produce tears more effectively and the tear film becomes more stable.
This creates a better overall feeling and will treat the symptoms of dry eye.