Expert Defines: Treatment for Chronic Dry Eye

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I do like to be very conservative and start with the least invasive first, and so I would say using artificial tears, which are over the counter. It's just a pure lubricating drop. It's not a medicine. It doesn't have any side effects and it's completely safe, so I would like to start with that. And I recommend using it about four times a day to really achieve good therapeutic results.

If the artificial tears are not enough to treat someone's dry eye, the next step would be to go to prescription eye drops, which are designed to help promote the tear gland to produce more tears. There's also something called punctal plugs, which is to keep the tears on the surface longer. Other options, and we're going a more advanced therapy, is to use a special contact lens that will basically create a reservoir so you can have fluid or tears or medications put in the surface of the eye. And the last thing that we could do is use serum tears, so that's actually making special eye drops from your own blood, which contains special nutrients and vitamins, which are very healthy for the surface of the eye.

For dry eye, there's no cure. So there are some people with mild dry eye who can have flare-ups. And so they might be on eye drops for a short period of time and get better and maybe not need it every day. But for the vast majority of people who have chronic dry eye, which is more common as we get older, using or continuing therapy is recommended for the health of the ocular surface, as well as to help with the patient's symptoms. So it would be a continued therapy.