While many people experience dry eyes from time to time, chronic dry eyes can be bothersome, and left untreated can produce long–term eye discomfort and possibly damage to the cornea. If you’ve been experiencing symptoms of dry eyes for a prolonged period of time, you should have your eyes checked by an ophthalmologist.

In addition to listening to the patient talking about symptoms, the ophthalmologist can perform several diagnostic tests. One test, called the Schirmer tear test, can actually measure the rate of tear production by using tiny filter paper strips placed under the lower eyelids.

After evaluating all information, the ophthalmologist can explain dry eye treatment options. Often dry eyes can be treated with a variety of both over–the–counter (OTC) and prescription medications. In some cases, a small silicon plug may be inserted into the small holes in the eyelid that drain tears. The simple (and reversible) procedure takes only a few seconds and can be performed in the examination chair. Also, in many cases dry eye can be helped with increased eye hygiene practices and by taking preventive action to avoid those situations that trigger symptoms (such as ceiling fans).