Harvard Health Letter

When eyes get dry and what you can try

Dry, irritated eyes can be caused by a number of conditions, such as certain autoimmune diseases, and are a side effect of certain medications. They are more common in women and older people. There isn't any one specific test to diagnose dry eyes. Most ophthalmologists will as a matter of course examine the eyes. Frequently, though, the eye examination and test results are secondary in the diagnostic workup, especially if the problem is mild. Symptoms and the patient's history are often the key pieces of information in arriving at a diagnosis. The first-line treatment for most people with dry eyes remains an over-the-counter topical treatment of some kind, typically drops. The prescription cyclosporine drops are usually used after patients have tried the over-the-counter products.
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