Over-the-counter eye drops, medications and special contact lenses are used to treat dry eyes, according to Mayo Clinic. Procedures to close tear ducts or unblock oil glands may be necessary in some cases. Light therapy and eye massage may also alleviate dry eyes.
Underlying health conditions or side effects from medications can cause dry eyes, so lifestyle changes or a consultation with a physician may be required, notes Mayo Clinic. If the dryness is caused by inflammation around the edge of the eyelids, a physician may prescribe antibiotics to bring down the inflammation. Corticosteroid eye drops that contain cyclosporine or corticosteroids may be used if an inflamed cornea is the cause of dry eyes.
In other cases, plugs can stop tears from leaving the eyes too quickly. Tiny inserts can also be placed in the eyes that dissolve over time and form a substance that mimics natural tears to keep eyes moist.
If over-the-counter eye drops do not effectively treat the dry eyes, a doctor may recommend an eye insert that dissolves and provides moisture, states Mayo Clinic. A health care provider may prescribe cholinergics, which are drugs that help to the eyes to produce more tears, or eye drops that are made from the patient's own blood and a salt solution.
Washing the eyes gently and often may decrease eye dryness for some people with conditions that cause inflammation around the eyelid, explains Mayo Clinic. People with dry eyes can wash the eyes by placing a warm, damp washcloth over the eyes for five minutes and gently rubbing the eyelids. It may also help to use baby shampoo or mild soap.