Dry eyes – when your eyes aren’t producing enough tears, or the tears they produce are of poor quality – affects nearly 16 million Americans. Dry eye is more common in older people, those who wear contact lenses, and people with certain autoimmune conditions like lupus.
However, not all people with dry eye treat the condition. Some people do not know they have the disease, while others find it difficult to treat it.
There are various reasons why it can be difficult to treat the symptoms of dry eye. Here are some ways to find a treatment that’s right for you and get the most from it.
Treatments for dry eyes
Treatments for dry eye vary and vary depending on whether the condition is mild, moderate, or severe.
Here are some of the most common treatments, in order of use depending on the severity of the disease:
- Lifestyle changes (such as avoiding air directly over the eyes, using a humidifier, and consuming more omega-3 fatty acids)
- Over-the-counter artificial tears (also called lubricating eye drops) that help lubricate the surface of the eye
- Warm compresses and eyelid cleansers to relieve any inflammation of the eyelids
- Over-the-counter gels and ointments, which provide a thicker coating on the surface of the eyes
- Prescription eye drops like cyclosporine (Restasis or Cequa) or lifitegrast (Xiidra) which will help your eyes to make more tears
- Tear plugs, which block your tear ducts to help save your own tears
- Steroid eye drops (used only for a short time)
- Specialized contact lenses for dry eyes
- Autologous serum, which are eye drops made from your own blood
Reasons You May Stop Your Dry Eye Treatments
Finding the right dry eye treatment for you can be difficult. Even if you find an option that is right for you, it is not always easy to follow the treatment for a variety of reasons.
Here are some reasons why you might stop treating your dry eyes, along with some tips to get you back on track.
Drugs for dry eye are too expensive
The list price for a month’s supply of prescription eye drops commonly used for dry eyes (like Cequa, Restasis, and Xiidra) is around $ 500 to $ 550.
When you first see the prices, you may fear that you cannot afford the treatment and you may not even consider these options because of the cost. However, be aware that most people do not pay full price for these eye drops treatments.
Here are some ways to get help paying for dry eye treatment:
- If you have health insurance: Check the manufacturer’s website to find out how much you can save on the product if you have insurance. For example, 80% of people using Restasis pay $ 35 or less for their monthly prescriptions. You can also ask your insurer what they will cover. Your copayment or deductible can affect the price you pay.
- If you are using Medicare or Medicaid: Medicare and Medicaid both have programs to reduce the cost of prescription drugs for dry eye. For example, many people on Medicare who are not eligible for the Medicare Supplemental Assistance program pay $ 0 to $ 50 per month for Restasis.
- If you don’t have health insurance: If you qualify, patient assistance programs can lower the price of a drug. These are for those who cannot afford a prescription.
- Get a savings card: Manufacturers often offer a prescription savings card to help reduce the cost of your medications. You will present your savings card and the prescription to the pharmacist. Savings cards are generally intended for people with insurance to help further reduce the price of a drug.
- Look for cost reduction opportunities: If the costs add up for artificial tears, look online for coupons or see if you can buy them in bulk to save money.
Treatments for dry eyes are uncomfortable
If your dry eye treatments are uncomfortable or painful, tell your eye doctor. Prescription eye drops and over-the-counter lubricating eye drops can sometimes cause an allergic reaction.
There are several reasons why your dry eye treatment may cause pain or discomfort, including:
- You experience a common side effect of the medicine: For example, cyclosporine can cause burning and stinging in some people when the drops first enter the eyes. Ophthalmologists may change the type of eye drops prescribed to avoid or lessen side effects. You can also store the medicine in the refrigerator, which will help keep it cool and may reduce tingling when inserting. Another option is to try using a preservative-free artificial tear product a few minutes before using cyclosporine.
- You need a reminder on how to instill the medicine: Ask your eye doctor’s office to review with you how to use the medicine, or find out if there are any instruction sheets or videos that can help.
- There is another problem in your eyes: Something other than your dry eye treatment may be causing discomfort. Your eye doctor can assess your symptoms and decide if you need an eye exam.
Drugs for dry eye don’t work
You may be diligently using a dry eye treatment like artificial tears or prescription medication, but it just doesn’t help.
There are several reasons why the dry eye medicine you are using may not work, such as:
- You might need stronger treatment: If you use artificial tears more than six times a day, tell your eye doctor. You may need different treatments to relieve your dry eye. Your doctor may also suggest that you use preservative-free artificial tears to avoid having too many preservatives on the surface of your eyes.
- You are using other medicines that make your dry eye worse: Certain medications, such as antihistamines, antidepressants, and water pills, can make your eyes drier. It may be enough that your treatment is not as effective. Review your medications with your eye doctor to see if there are any potential side effects and learn about strategies to mitigate them.
- You may have an underlying health problem that makes your dry eye worse: Other health problems like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and lupus can dry out the eyes. Tell your eye doctor if you have any of these conditions, as this will likely affect the treatment they recommend.
- You may not have found the best brand of artificial tears for yourself: If you are using artificial tears and they don’t work, try a different brand. Some artificial tears contain preservatives (often benzalkonium chloride), which some users may find more irritating than helpful. There are many options for treating dry eye, and it may take some trial and error to find the one that’s right for you.
If your treatment doesn’t work, the first thing to do is to tell your eye doctor. They can help you understand why it isn’t helping you and recommend what you should try next.
You are running out of medication for dry eye
Life is busy, and thinking about renewing your dry eye medication can become an added item on your to-do list. Maybe you finish a prescription medication you received and never contact your eye doctor’s office to get a refill.
Here are some things you can do if you are constantly running out of dry eye medication:
- Ask if you can get a prescription for a 90 day supply: This way, you don’t have to worry about monthly top-ups.
- Consider using a mail pharmacy or medication service: This can save you a trip to the pharmacy. Plus, if the products arrive right at your doorstep, you’ll be more likely to have them when you need them.
- Store: You may be able to purchase OTC products in bulk or in larger quantities at big box stores or through online sellers.
You use too many drugs
If you have other health issues that you need to deal with on a daily basis, adding eye drops to your routine might seem like another thing to watch out for. It can seem intimidating, even though you know the products will help relieve your symptoms.
Here are some tips for keeping track of your medications:
- Review all of your medications and supplements with your primary health care provider: Your doctor may decide that you no longer need to take it, which will reduce the number of people you need to follow each day.
- Use reminders on your phone: You can set prompts to remind you to use your drops daily, and even create an alert for the exact time you want to use them.
- Take your medicine at the same time as you start another daily habit: For example, use your prescription eye drops before or after brushing your teeth in the morning and evening. Making it a habit will help you remember it.
A word from Verywell
There are a variety of ways to treat dry eye disease, but some people with the condition find it difficult to follow treatments. Side effects, treatments that don’t work well, or costs can all be barriers to effectively managing dry eye symptoms.
If you are having trouble finding an effective treatment or want to stop your treatment, talk to your eye doctor. Whether it’s finding a way to lower the cost of your treatments, trying a new treatment, or treating medications or other health conditions that are contributing to your symptoms, there are things you can do. do to get you back on track and relieve your symptoms.