If your dry eye syndrome is mild to moderate you can relieve symptoms by using lubricants. The lubricants come in the form of eye drops, gels or ointments. You can also purchase these over the counter from a chemist without a prescription.
Lubricants help moisten the eyes and replace missing water in the tear film. They are often referred to as “artificial tears”. However, unlike normal tears, they do not contain antibodies, nutrients and vitamins which are needed for good eye health.
Eye drops are available in several fluid thicknesses and with different ingredients. Eye drops which are light and watery can relieve your symptoms very quickly and do not have side effects. However, as they are lighter your symptoms can come back more quickly, needing you to apply drops more frequently.
The thicker eye drops have a gel like consistency. These drops can help lubricate your eyes for longer periods of time. However, they can cause blurred vision for a short while, so not suitable if you require clear vision immediately e.g. driving. Therefore these drops are usually recommended for use at bedtime.
Many eye drops have preservatives in them to stop harmful bacteria growing inside the bottle. If you need to apply eye drops more than six times a day it is beneficial to use eye drops that are preservative-free.
If you use preservatives for a long period of time (months/years) this could cause the surface cells on the eye to become damaged or inflamed.
You should also use preservative-free drops if you wear soft contact lenses, as the preservatives attach to the contact lens and could harm the eye.