What causes dry eyes?

EyeSmart Admin
Administration Specialist

Eyedrops contain medicines that are used to treat many eye diseases and conditions. Some are also helpful for relieving eye discomfort or dry eyes.

It is important to remember that all medicines, including eyedrops, can cause side effects. Some side effects caused by eyedrops are local, which means they affect just the eyes. Examples of local side effects include redness of the eye, eye irritation or blurred vision.

Most of the medication in eyedrops stays in or near the eyes, but a small amount affects the rest of the body. Eyedrops are absorbed into the body’s bloodstream through mucous membranes lining the surface of the eye, the tear drainage system, and nose. Once in your bloodstream, the eyedrops can cause side effects in other parts of the body. Such side effects can include slow heart rate, dizziness and headache. In general, however, there is less risk of side effects with eyedrops than with oral medicines.

Putting drops in your eye may seem difficult at first but becomes easier with practice. Follow these steps:

  1. Wash your hands prior to using your eyedrops.
  2. Remove the cap. Do not touch the dropper tip.
  3. Tilt your head back slightly.
  4. Pull your lower lid away from the eye to form a “pocket” by: (a) pulling the lower lid down with your index finger or (b) pinching lid outward with thumb and index finger.
  5. Hold the dropper tip directly over the eyelid pocket. (You may wish to brace your hand against your face or forehead to keep it steady.)
  6. Look up and let the eyedrop fall into the pocket without touching the bottle to your eye or eyelid (to prevent contamination of the bottle).
  7. Close your eyes (do not blink) and apply pressure to the point where the lids meet the nose. Hold for two to three minutes.
  8. Before opening your eyes — and this is very important — wipe unabsorbed drops and tears from the closed lids with a tissue. Then open your eyes.
  9. If you need to take more than one kind of eye medication at the same time, wait three to five minutes before using the second drop.
Dr. Manvi P. Maker
Ophthalmologist (Eye Specialist)

Some of the glaucoma medications can cause eye dryness, redness or even allergic reactions in extreme cases. Over-the-counter artificial tears may help with the dryness, but should not be used within 5 minutes before or after your glaucoma drop. If the dryness is becoming a daily problem, discuss this with your ophthalmologist to ensure it is nothing more serious.

Some eye surgeries such as LASIK can cause the eyes to produce fewer tears. If the amount of tears is insufficient enough, it can lead to dry eyes. In most cases, the effect is temporary.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.