Dry eyes and how to treat it

It is never a good idea to take a shortcut when it comes to eye care. The incorrect treatment or products can leave you prone to infection or worsen the chronic issue while only temporarily providing relief.

Mopani Pharmacy consulted Grant Freeman, a local optometrist on how to keep your eyes hydrated and healthy.


“Dry eyes can be caused by many things, it is important to match the cause of the problem with a drop that is effective against that cause. You could be doing more harm than good using the wrong drop”, Grant explained.

 Common causes include:

  • Exposure to wind or dry air
  • Allergies
  • Overuse of computers, screens or focusing; where you ‘forget’ to blink
  • Irritants like smoke or pollutants
  • Blocked oil glands
  • Your eyelids not closing the way they should when you sleep or blink
  • Vitamin A deficiency / or overuse
  • Side effects of certain medicines like antihistamines
  • The natural aging process, such as menopause
  • Diseases that affect your ability to make tears, like Sjogren's syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and collagen vascular diseases

 Eye drops and gels

“Eye drops and gels have specific constituents for the different causes of ocular discomfort. Saline might rinse out all the oils in your tear film giving temporary relief but worsening the symptoms a few hours later”, said Grant.

 “A gel is recommended for severely dry eye; it should be a last resort as the cause should rather be investigated and treated rather than treat the dry eye symptoms. Many don’t like gels because they cause blurry vision upon insertion until the gel blends with the tear film. Most gels are not recommended to insert on top of contact lenses as they leave residues on the lens surface. Best advice would be to consult an optometrist to find out which drop or gel will be best suited to your needs”, he concluded.


You may benefit from a humidifier in the room to increase the humidity, and minimising your exposure to dry air. We have a range of humidifiers available in-store and online. Remember to swop out and clean the water content of your humidifier every three days to avoid an overgrowth of bacteria or fungi in the machine. This will be counter-productive to your health.

Diet and hydration

Make sure to keep up a good, balanced diet and drink at least two litres of water every day. Ask your doctor for advice before using multivitamins, collagen and omega 3 supplements.

Allergy identification

Many of us outgrow certain allergies and form others as we age. You can ask your doctor about an allergy test.

A skin prick test, also called a puncture or scratch test, checks for immediate allergic reactions to as many as 50 different substances at once. This test is usually done to identify allergies to pollen, mould, pet dander, dust mites and foods.

Once you know what you are allergic to, you will be able to avoid and/or get the correct treatment to avoid them.

The research on dry eyes is improving each year, and studies with regards to the use of oil-based remedies and artificial tears are well underway.

Keep in touch with your optometrist to ensure you are getting the correct, effective treatment.


If you would like to book an appointment for advice or a consultation, you can visit Grant Freeman, optometrist and contact lens specialist, on the ground floor of the Lowveld Hospital at Rothery street, Nelspruit. Book an appointment: 013 755 3355

Read more: Sleep and your mental health

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Dry eyesElbi dippenaarEye healthGrant freemanOptometrist