Taking some medications, like antihistamines, antidepressants and birth control pills, can increase the likelihood of dry eyes. Preservatives in medicated eyedrops used chronically, including glaucoma drops and over-the-counter artificial tears, also can worsen dry eye symptoms. Avoid drops that claim to get the red out. These can lead to rebound red eyes, which cause eyes to be even redder and more irritated than before.
Finally, dry eyes are more common as you get older. Normal aging changes your eyes, and they don’t function as well as when you’re younger. Dry eyes also can be caused by changes in hormone levels associated with age, menopause, pregnancy or birth control pills.
So what can you do if you have dry, yet watery eyes? The first step is to visit your eye doctor and discuss your symptoms. Many people fail to mention these issues because they don’t see them as important. Your doctor will work to evaluate your symptoms, and the quality and quantity of your tears.
Once an evaluation is complete, your doctor will design a treatment plan to improve the environment for your eyes and your dry eye disease. This could include using supplements, hot compresses or prescription drops; improving your diet; and controlling your environment with a humidifier.
Unfortunately, there’s no magic wand to make dry eye disease instantly better. Your dry eye disease didn’t occur overnight. It took many months or years to develop, and it’s not going to go away immediately. However, if you follow a treatment plan, and you learn and use new habits, your dry eye disease can improve.
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Dr. Robert Friese, ophthalmology, Mayo Clinic Health System, Fairmont, Minnesota