As mentioned above, mild cases of dry eye can be treated with over-the-counter (OTC) artificial tears, like the ones recommended by our panel of experts. Research notes that mild cases of dry eye often require the use of these eye drops four times a day, while more severe cases may need an increased frequency.
It’s worth keeping in mind that many OTC eye drops contain preservatives, and risk of adverse effects increases with frequent use—if you are administering your eye drops on a more regular basis (more than six times a day), consider a preservative-free option.
Other forms of over-the-counter dry eye treatment, as reflected in our ranking, can include gels or ointments (often used at bedtime).
However, more serious cases of dry eye (as determined by your doctor) may require prescription eye drops such as Restasis or Xiidra that can help produce tears. Other courses of treatment may include tear duct plugs (in the case that tears are draining too quickly from your eye) or, in rare cases, surgery (if your dry eye is caused by your eyelid being too loose, leading to your eye draining tears too quickly).
If your dry eye is caused by lifestyle factors, try practicing healthier habits like limiting screen time, adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet, wearing wraparound sunglasses, avoiding smoke and wind when possible and using a humidifier to prevent the air from getting too dry.