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.