What can I do if I have dry eyes or conjunctivitis?

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David R. Demartini, MD
Ophthalmology
If you have dry eyes, they will need more lubrication. This can accomplished with the use of artificial tears or ointment which are available over the counter at any pharmacy. Patients can also add moisture to their environment by adding a humidfier to their living space or turning down the air conditioning. If this is not succesful then you can see your eye doctor who can prescribe medicines that are designed to increase tear production. Other devices can also be applied by trained doctors to plug the exit of tears or tear supplements from escaping the eyes.
Conjunctivitis is the inflammation of the white mucus membrane lining of the eyes. There are many causes for conjunctivitis such that an exact cause for this problem is difficult to determine without a proper exam. Infections are viral, bacterial, fungal or even parasitic and need approprite intibiotics. Allergic, toxic, or inflammatory conjunctivitis are also possible. Any conjunctivitis that lasts more than three days should be examined by a qualified eye doctor. 
Most people don't value what they have until they lose it. This truly applies to vision. People don't know they need glasses as a child because they have no frame of reference. Therefore,children's vision must be tested by age 5, especially because 1% of the population has a lazy or unused eye. Only through early diagnosis and treatment can the vision be improved. In this article are two of five common eye problems to consider. The other three (cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degeneration) are detailed in another article.
Conjunctivitis: Redness and swelling of the thin outer coat of the eye, which normally is transparent. It can be caused by infection (eg. pink eye), chemicals, injury, oily skin (rosacea), dry eye, surgery or allergies. Signs and symptoms are discomfort, swelling, itching, redness, tearing, light sensitivity and discharge. Rubbing the eye may increase the problem and, in the case of the infection, spread it to the other eye. Hand washing is extremely important for reducing spread of infection.
Dry eyes: Very common in computer users, the elderly, people on certain medications, people with medical conditions, people in warm, dry environments, and people who don't blink frequently. Remember to think, drink (water), blink, examine medications, eliminate artificial sweeteners (eg. soft drinks) and use artificial tears. The symptom of tired eyes may apply to people with dry eyes, chronic conjunctivitis, wearing the wrong glasses, straining with reading, and the inability to maintain both eyes focusing at the same point. Artificial tears can be tried as a remedy but an examination may be necessary. Many times the bifocal in glasses is not properly set for close work and can lead to eye fatigue.
For more specific information relevant to your eye health and individual recommendation, consult your doctor.

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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.