There are other, perhaps somewhat less effective ways of approaching this, including regular gland expression, which can be taught to you by a willing eye care professional. Moisture shields and moisture goggles are also key to his management. EyeEco, a California company specializing in dry eye products, just introduced a silicone shield that I would recommend for nighttime use. It serves as a moisture barrier and also helps prevent mechanical irritation and drying. They also make a moist heat product that sounds similar to what you are already using.
You are exactly right in your thinking. Different drops are used to dilate eyes. Tropicamide (mydriacyl) is the most common drop and it comes in two strengths, % and %. The % will not last quite as long but it is not a large difference. Tropicamide will dilate the eyes and interfere with near focusing. Phenylephrine is often added as a second drop with mydriacyl to enhance the dilation. Phenylephrine enlarges and hastens the dilation but has no effect on focusing and usually does not prolong the dilation. Paremyd is another drop containing % hydroxyamphetamine and % tropicamide. It does not dilate the eyes as well but tends to last a shorter time period and not interfere with near focusing as much. Longer lasting drops include cyclopentolate and homatropine. They have a longer mode of action and exert significantly more interference with close vision. They are usually used for children.
2 months or older:
-Ointment: Apply a small amount (about 1/2 inch ribbon) into the conjunctival sac(s) of the infected eye(s) every 3 to 4 hours and at bedtime.
-Solution: Instill 1 to 2 drops into the conjunctival sac(s) of the infected eye(s) every 2 to 3 hours initially.
Duration of therapy: 7 to 10 days
-As the condition responds, may taper by increasing the time interval between doses
-May use the ointment as adjunct to the solution
Uses: For the treatment of conjunctivitis and other superficial ocular infections due to susceptible E coli, S aureus, S pneumoniae, Streptococcus (viridans group), H influenzae, Klebsiella species, Enterobacter species