Dry eyesOverview

Many people get dry eyes. It's not usually serious and there are things you can do to help.

You may have dry eyes if your eyes are:

  • itchy
  • sore
  • gritty
  • red
  • blurry
  • sensitive to light
  • more watery than normal

Causes of dry eyes

You may be more likely to get dry eyes if:

  • you're over the age of 50
  • you wear contact lenses
  • you look at computer screens for a long time without a break
  • you spend time in air conditioned or heated environments
  • it's windy, cold, dry or dusty
  • you smoke or drink alcohol
  • you take certain medicines (for example, some antidepressants or blood pressure drugs)
  • you have a condition, such as blepharitis, Sjögren's syndrome or lupus

Do

  • keep your eyes clean
  • take breaks to rest your eyes when using a computer screen
  • make sure your computer screen is at eye level so you do not strain your eyes
  • use a humidifier to stop the air getting dry
  • get plenty of sleep to rest your eyes
  • if you wear contact lenses, take them out and wear glasses to rest your eyes

Don't

  • do not smoke or drink too much alcohol
  • do not spend too long in smoky, dry or dusty places
  • do not spend too long in air conditioned or heated rooms
  • do not stop taking a prescribed medicine without getting medical advice first – even if you think it's causing your symptoms

A pharmacist may be able to tell you:

  • what you can do to treat it yourself – such as cleaning and protecting your eyes
  • if you can buy anything to help – such as eye drops, gels, ointments or allergy medicines
  • if you need to see an optician or GP

See an optician or GP if:

  • you still have dry eyes after trying home treatments for a few weeks
  • there's any change in the shape of your eyelids

They can check what the cause might be and recommend treatment for it.

If an optician or GP cannot find a cause, they may refer you to an eye specialist (ophthalmologist) for tests.

Find an optician

Ask for an urgent appointment if:

  • you have any changes to your vision, such as loss of vision

Page last reviewed: 17/12/2018
Next review due: 17/12/2021