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Relief for Dry Eyes

Are your eyes frequently irritated? Do they constantly burn and feel as though you’ve got something in them, but you can’t seem to get it out?  If this sounds familiar, you may be suffering from dry eye, a condition in which the eyes don't have enough tears to properly coat them and keep them comfortable. So what causes dry eye? And is there a cure? Keep reading for answers to those questions – and more!

What causes dry eye?

A reduction in the amount of tears normally accompanies aging. But it can also be caused by use of some prescription and nonprescription drugs, by eye infection or injury, or by a certain type of arthritis. Your primary care doctor or ophthalmologist can help determine the cause and best treatment for the problem.

Treatment Tips and Tricks

Unfortunately, there is no way to increase production of tears (even by watching Steel Magnolias or Terms of Endearment over and over). Either lubricating drops called artificial tears must be used to replace the missing ones, or the tears you produce naturally must be conserved. Artificial tears are sold over the counter without a prescription and can be used as often as necessary to make your eyes feel better. Those that do not contain preservatives are recommended. Another option is eye ointments—they keep your eyes moist longer than drops, so many people with dry eye use them before they go to bed.

If tear-replacement methods do not provide relief, you may want to have the tear-drainage openings in your eyelids closed up. This method keeps your natural tears from trickling away. The openings may be closed permanently with surgery, or they may be blocked with plastic plugs that can be removed if necessary.

Also, consider these tips:
  • Avoid letting smoke get in your eyes.
  • Keep the humidity level in your home between 30 percent and 50 percent to prevent evaporation of your tears (both artificial and natural ones).
  • Stay out of the wind (even from a hair dryer) or wear wraparound glasses to shield your eyes.
  • Keep your eyes healthy with supplements that contain beta carotene, bilberry, and vitamins B-12 and E.

If you are suffering from dry eyes, the above options may be able to provide some relief. And, I can always recommend some tear jerker movies to get you started.

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