Researchers are continuing to explore and develop new treatments for dry eye disease. Some new treatments include types of eye drops and therapies, among others.

Dry eye disease is a chronic condition that affects 16 million people in the United States, according to the National Eye Institute (NEI).

The condition occurs when your eyes can’t produce enough tears to stay moisturized or your tears evaporate too quickly.

According to the American Optometric Association, treatment aims to regulate tear production by:

  • adding tears
  • preventing tears from evaporating or draining too quickly
  • reducing inflammation
  • increasing tear production

Without treatment, dry eye may lead to several health complications.

Keep reading to learn more about the latest treatments for dry eye and ways to help prevent symptoms.

Over-the-counter (OTC) artificial tears, or eye drops, are the most common first-line treatment for dry eye. It’s best to choose preservative-free products because they typically irritate the eyes less.

If OTC eye drops don’t work, a healthcare professional may prescribe stronger treatments.

Several medications are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of dry eye:

  • Perfluorhexyloctane (Miebo): Approved in 2023, this is the newest treatment for dry eye disease.
  • Loteprednol etabonate ophthalmic suspension (Eysuvis, Inveltys, Alrex, Lotemax): This is an ophthalmic corticosteroid intended for the short-term treatment of dry eye.
  • Lifitegrast (Xiidra): This belongs to a class of drugs called lymphocyte function-associated antigen 1 (LFA-1) antagonists. It may help reduce inflammation associated with dry eye and increase tear production.
  • Cyclosporine (Restasis, Cequa): This is an immunosuppressant that may help your eye produce more tears.
  • Varenicline (Tyrvaya): This is a nasal spray that may help stimulate the production of tears, oil, and mucin.

There are also many ongoing clinical trials for the development of new eye drop medications.

For example, a phase 2 clinical trial is comparing the effects of 0.3% YP-P10 Ophthalmic Solution and 1% YP-P10 Ophthalmic Solution with a placebo.

Another phase 3 clinical trial is measuring the effects of cenegermin (rhNGF) on people with dry eye disease caused by Sjögren disease.

In some cases, a healthcare professional may prescribe autologous serum eye drops. These drops are made from your blood. They could help promote healing, regeneration, and tear production.

One of the newest treatments for dry eye is an intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy device called OptiLight. It was approved by the FDA in 2021.

IPL delivers gentle pulses of light to the skin around your eyes. This may help reduce inflammation and improve the stability of your tear film.

Two other devices, Lipiflow and iLux, use thermal pulsation therapy to help treat dry eye disease. This targets specific enzymes that may cause inflammation through the gentle application of heat and pressure to your eyelids.

However, a 2024 study found that more research is needed to fully support the benefits of Lipiflow.

According to the NEI, some other procedures that may help prevent your tears from draining too quickly include:

  • Eye inserts: Hydroxypropyl cellulose ophthalmic inserts (Lacrisert) are about the size of a rice grain. A doctor inserts them into your eyes near the lower eyelids. They provide lubrication as they slowly dissolve.
  • Punctal occlusion: In this procedure, a doctor inserts a plug into the tear drain of your lower eyelid. They may use a temporary plug that dissolves on its own or one made of silicone that they must remove.
  • Surgery: A surgeon can tighten your lower eyelids to help your eyes hold on to tears.

Research suggests that some dietary supplements may have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits that could help manage dry eye disease.

The most researched supplement for dry eye disease is omega-3 fatty acids. These are available as supplements but can be found in a variety of foods, like fatty fish, nuts, and seeds.

Some vitamins may also help reduce symptoms, including vitamins A, B12, C, and D.

That said, the authors of a 2022 review note that long-term supplementation of certain vitamins may lead to possible side effects.

It’s best to speak with a doctor about potential vitamin deficiencies and whether you should take dietary supplements. They can advise you on the best treatment plan for your health condition.

The following lifestyle changes may help prevent symptoms of dry eye:

  • Avoid rubbing your eyes.
  • Apply a warm compress to your eyelids several times a day.
  • Avoid eye drops with preservatives.
  • Use a humidifier whenever possible.
  • Try to avoid the breeze from fans and heating and air vents.
  • Rest your eyes when they feel irritated.
  • Make it a point to blink more often.
  • Aim for a full night’s sleep every night.
  • Stay hydrated by drinking 8–10 glasses of water each day.
  • Drink alcohol only in moderation.
  • Wear wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes from sunlight and environmental irritants.
  • Avoid tobacco smoke, such as from smoking or secondhand smoke.
  • Reduce screen time as much as possible.
  • If you wear contact lenses, clean them properly.

What is the best treatment for severe dry eyes?

The best treatment for severe dry eye depends on several factors and may vary for each person. Some options include prescription eye drops, intense pulsed light therapy, wearing scleral contact lenses, or surgery.

In some cases, you may also need amniotic membranes, where a doctor places new tissues on your eye.

A healthcare professional can help develop the best treatment plan for your health condition.

How can I cure my dry eyes permanently?

There’s no cure for dry eyes. However, treatment can help you manage your symptoms and improve your quality of life.

What is the last resort for dry eyes?

In cases of severe dry eye disease, a healthcare professional may recommend surgery. This may include surgery if your eyelids are too loose, which may cause tears to escape quickly.

Dry eye disease is a condition that may cause itching, burning, or gritty eyes.

Speak with a healthcare professional if you experience symptoms of dry eye disease. Many treatments are available, but not all of them may be suitable for you.

A healthcare professional can help develop a treatment plan that’s right for you and give you advice on any clinical trials that may be of interest to you.