Harvard Women's Health Watch

Ask the doctor: How can I treat dry eyes?

Q. Recently my eyes have been more sensitive and irritated, and it's uncomfortable to wear my contact lenses. My eye doctor says I have dry eyes and advises artificial tears. Is there anything else I should do?

A. Dry eye is a very common condition that becomes more common as we age. In addition to your symptoms, you may notice redness, an increase in mucus over the eye, and sensitivity to light. Dry eye occurs when there are not sufficient tears to protect the surface of the eye, the cornea. It can cause corneal irritation or inflammation, which may lead to changes in your vision.

The most common cause of dry eye is aging. Exposure to environmental factors, such as low-humidity climates, highly air-conditioned or heated spaces, or airborne irritants like smoke or pollution can worsen symptoms.

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