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Pain management
for the dry eye patient

Many dry eye patients suffer from chronic pain, sometimes severe and debilitating. They must find a balance between dealing with their long-term need of maintaining their tear film in the best condition possible and their short-term needs of managing pain particularly during flare-ups. While there is overlap between dry eye treatment and pain management, it can be helpful to view them as separate tasks which we strive to make as compatible as possible.


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  • Pain drugs: Keep these as a last resort, since they may exacerbate dry eye, but do keep them as an option.
  • Ice packs: Can soothe down pain on really rough days.
  • Refrigerated eyedrops: Can be more soothing than drops at room temperature. Check first to make sure that this is OK with the specific drops you are using, especially if prescription-only; some artificial tears should not be refrigerated.
  • Monitor depression and anxiety as these will greatly increase the challenge of coping with pain and may need treatment in their own right.
  • Naps. Some people can make their days much more manageable with an afternoon nap.
  • Warm compresses: From warm washcloths to the rice baggy, heat is a good soother (as well as an MGD treatment) for many patients.
  • Hot steamy shower: Many patients find the steam soothing. Note of caution: Avoid standing with the water coming straight onto your closed lids. It's possible for sudden surges of overheated water to burn your lids.
  • Eyewear: Even if you don't want or need to wear wraparound glasses most of the time, investing in things like a good pair like Panoptx may be worth it simply for the confidence factor that when things start getting rough you can slip them on and start feeling better.
  • An ounce of prevention...: Even when you're feeling better don't let that stop you from keeping up with some basic treatments! This is a chronic disease and has to be treated as such.
  • Combat stress: No, there aren't any scientific studies on it but from the overwhelming anecdotal evidence in our community forums we are sure that stress and anxiety exacerbate dry eye pain. When you're under stress you don't take good care of yourself. When you sense your stress level rising, try to take some time out for some good old pampering.




1 Ziplock Sandwich Baggie
6 Ice Cubes

Place six ice cubes in ziplock baggie, and fill the baggie about 1/3 filled with water.  Zip the baggie shut.  Lay down (if possible).  Place a tissue over your eyes.  Place the water/ice filled baggie over the tissues.  Relax for 5-15 minutes and notice the pain reducing.

more on living with dry eye

Surviving the office environment

Protecting dry eyes at night

Travelling with dry eyes

Depression and anxiety


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