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No More Dry Eyes

What can I do to relieve dry eyes? I’ve tried various eye drops; some don’t work, and some make it worse!

Helen,

Olathe, Kansas

First of all, you’re not alone. As many as 22 percent of Americans suffer from some form of dry eye, according to Dr. Mark Abelson, dry eye specialist at Boston’s Schepens

Eye Research Institute and a clinical associate professor at Harvard Medical School. Certain medicines (such as antihistamines or blood-pressure drugs) can make dryness worse, and so can some eye drops that ease redness but don’t lubricate the eye surface.

To help relieve dry eyes, Dr. Abelson suggests:

—Drink plenty of water and avoid windy and arid conditions. Blink often. Take breaks while working on the computer and watching television. Consider taking an omega-3 supplement to help reduce eye inflammation.

—Avoid products that offer “redness reduction” and opt for a long-lasting lubricant eye drop that targets specific dry eye problems. For example, research shows that Systane® Ultra (Alcon) drops improve vision after 90 minutes.

—Prescription options may include Lacrisert, a small, clear insert that dissolves throughout the day to stabilize the eye’s tear film, and Restasis (cyclosporine A) eye drops, which increase tear production. For a more permanent solution, eye specialists insert “punctal plugs” into the drainage holes in the corners of the eyelids.

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