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Ask the Expert: What can be done about dry eyes?

Answers provided by Dr. Mitchell Gossman, M.D., ophthalmologist at Eye Associates of Central Minnesota, St. Cloud

What can I do for my dry eyes?

Dry eyes is one of the more common eye symptoms that there is. We call it “dry eye syndrome.” Some of the symptoms of dry eyes include:

• Burning

• Itching

• Stinging

• Feeling like something is in the eye

• Intermittent blurring or ghost images especially when using your eyes for extended periods.

• Redness

• Intermittent watery eyes

The basic cause of these symptoms is poor lubrication of the surface of the eye. The eye is kept lubricated by continuous production of tears by glands within your eyelids. If there is loss of these glands, you may not have enough tears to keep the eye lubricated all the time and you will experience dry eye symptoms.

It is very common for these symptoms to vary through the day. If you are reading, using the computer, or working for an extended period you may be blinking less often as you concentrate This causes more tears to evaporate and make dry eye symptoms worse.

Dry eyes are caused by poor lubrication of the surface of the eye and it can result in discomfort and blurred vision. Contributed photo

In fact, your eyes may dry out so much sometimes that your eye will generate a gush of tears from the large main lacrimal gland under your upper lid. This gland is mainly intended to flush out foreign bodies or other irritants, but your eye doesn’t know the difference between these or just being dry, so it generates the flood of tears to try to correct the problem. It seems strange that dry eyes can result in intermittently excessively water eyes, but it is so.

For the eye to give clear vision it is necessary to have a smooth corneal surface, well-lubricated with tears. If the eye dries out, this can result in blurry vision or even ghost images, and these problems can come and go through the day.

Dry eyes can be associates with aging, systemic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, or some medications.

What can be done about dry eyes?

A lot. The most common treatment for intermittent, mild irritation is to put in supplemental tears – “artificial tears” – which are available over the counter, even before symptoms start, such as putting them in prior to reading.

There are many other treatments for dry eyes. There are procedures and prescription medications that can help. If you continue to have symptoms despite artificial tears, or they only help for a short time, you should schedule an appointment to determine the best treatments to help you.

Find Out More

Dr. Mitchell Gossman and Dr. Andrea Joplin, ophthalmologists at Eye Associates of Central Minnesota, can diagnose and treat dry eyes, among other ailments relating to the eyes. Their office is located at 628 Roosevelt Road, Suite 101, in St. Cloud. To make an appointment or to learn more, call 320-774-3789 or email

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