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Dry Eye Syndrome - Topic Overview

Dry eye syndrome (keratoconjunctivitis sicca) occurs when the tear glands do not make enough tears or when too many tears evaporate from the surface of your eye. This causes your eyes to feel itchy, scratchy, and irritated. It is more common in older adults and in those with autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis.

Wearing contact lenses may increase your risk for dry eye syndrome. Dry eyes also may be caused by certain medicines, such as antidepressants, antihistamines, and diuretics.

To help soothe your dry eyes, you can try an over-the-counter lubricant eye drop (artificial tears solution), such as Hypo Tears or Systane. Do not use eyedrops that reduce redness (such as Opcon-A) to treat dry eyes. You can also try to blink a lot, limit your time in air-conditioned or heated rooms, and use a humidifier in rooms where you spend a lot of time.

If you've used artificial tears for a few days and they don't seem to be helping, call your doctor. Excessive dryness can damage your eyes. And your doctor may recommend other treatments, including:

  • Prescription eyedrops, such as cyclosporine (Restasis).
  • Punctal occlusion, in which the eye doctor inserts a plug to block your tear drainage system camera.gif. It helps preserve the natural tears on the surface of your eye.
  • An omega-3 fatty acid supplement.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: January 25, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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