published Thursday, July 11th, 2013

Ask a doctor: I have dry eyes. Can I use over-the-counter drops long-term?

By Dr. Carrie Morris

Q: I have dry eyes. Can I use over-the-counter drops long-term?

A: Dry eyes are a common and chronic problem for many people. First thing:Make sure you truly have dry-eye syndrome or another cause for your symptoms. These include eyelid inflammation (blepharitis), skin problems (rosacea), problems with eyelid closure and position, medications, environmental (smoking, low humidity, ceiling fan use) and inflammatory problems affecting the entire body. If you are tearing, it is important to have an ophthalmologist determine if you have a dry eye, wet eye or both. Once a complete exam has been done, including an evaluation of the tear duct system, a treatment can be recommended. Over-the-counter artificial tears are generally safe long-term in treating dry eyes caused by insufficient tear production. If you need them more than four times a day, it is important to use preservative-free artificial tears.

-- Dr. Carrie Morris, ophthalmologist; member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

Readers: To submit a question for medical doctors, email it to Clint Cooper at See this space each week for answers.

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