'Dry Eye' Treatment Options – your optometrist is the best person to advise on the best course of action for you, but this is not something that your optometrist can assess just by having a quick chat in the waiting room. You will need an appointment so your optometrist can learn more about you, your lifestyle and any medications you are taking and to use some magnifying equipment and special optical dyes to get a good look at your eyes.
- If you have not had a sight test for over a year then it is probably best to book a full consultation just in case your sore, bloodshot eyes are not just due to a 'dry eye'.
- If you have had a recent eye test, but at that time your eyes looked OK and you didn't mention any discomfort but they are now causing you concern you may not need a full eye test, just an anterior eye examination.(In England this would need to be a private appointment, the NHS will not pay your optometrist for this type of test).
Lid Scrubs – using the traditional baby shampoo and cotton buds, or more effective specially formulated lid wipes. Try Blephaclean or Supranette lid wipes, both are hygienic, soothing and very easy to use. Blephaclean wipes are especially recommended for sticky eyes, whereas Supranettes are effective for sore, watery and/or gritty eyes.
Eye drops and sprays – Drops range from the simple hypromellose types (usually the cheapest eye drops ) which have limited effectiveness, through to thick lubricants for use over-night. Most people find a gel type liquid works well, as it has more staying power such as the range of Systane eye drops.
Most bottles of eye-drops contain a preservative (an exception is Hyabak). The preservative in some of the cheaper types can upset the cornea, causing increased discomfort and are only effective for one month. Some of the more expensive drops, such as Systane contain a preservative that is kinder to the eye and is effective for up to 6 months – so more cost effective. Alternatively Blink minims (small plastic single-dose vials) are kindest of all as they don't need a preservative, but may seem more expensive.
Sprays are useful for people who struggle to instil eye drops, and can be an additional measure for conveniance.
Diet supplements – either by increasing your intake of foods containing eg zinc and omega 3's or taking a supplement. It may take 3 months or more to notice any improvement in your symptoms but is worth persevering with. The commonest foods that contain omega 3 are Flaxseed and/or oily fish (such as tuna).
Recent research suggests that caffeine tablets could reduce dry eye symptoms in some sufferers. However researchers advise that caffeine must be used with caution. It should not be seen as a cure-all for everyone and some people may suffer side effects. Many people find too much coffee causes irritability, headaches and insomnia and taking too much caffeine in tablet form will have similar side effects. So anyone trying a caffeine based cure for dry eye must proceed with caution and moderation.
Dry eyes are rarely cured but they can be managed.
If standard treatments do not work then your Optometrist can refer you to have 'punctum plugs' inserted. These stop the tears you are producing from draining away ofthrough small drainage canals in the inner corner of your eye, For some people they can be very effective but not always.