Dry Eye Evaluation & Treatment
Dry eye is a common condition that occurs when the eyes are insufficiently moisturized, leading to itching, redness and pain from dry spots on the surface of the eye. The eyes may become dry and irritated because the tear gland don't produce enough tears, or because the tears themselves have a chemical imbalance and evaporates faster than healthy tear film.
Patients with this condition often experience irritating symptoms and can suffer from more serious vision damage if this condition is left untreated. It is important for patients with this condition to take special care of their eyes in order to alleviate symptoms and prevent complications. Your doctor can diagnose dry eye after a thorough evaluation of your eye and tear production through a Schirmer tear test.
Causes of Dry Eye
People usually begin experiencing dry eye symptoms as they age, but the condition can also result from certain medications, conditions or injuries. Dry eye tends to affect women more often than men, as the hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy, menopause and with the effects of oral contraceptives can affect the consistency of tears. It is also more common in people over the age of 50. Other causes may include:
- Medications such as antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications and antidepressants
- Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and thyroid problems
- Environmental conditions such as smoke, wind and dry climates
- Long-term contact lens use.
- Refractive surgery
- Inflammation of eyelids ( blepharitis) and rosacea.
These factors can affect the frequency or consistency of tear film, both of which can lead to dry eyes. Our natural tears require a certain chemical balance in order to efficiently moisturize the eyes.
Symptoms of Dry Eye
Patients with dry eye may experience certain symptoms from this condition, usually affecting both eyes, which may include:
- Stinging, burning, grittiness and sandy sensation
- Irritation from smoke or wind
- Eye fatigue and redness
- Sensitivity to light
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
- Excessive tearing
Dry eye is not only painful; it can also damage the eye's tissues and impair vision. Fortunately, many treatment options are available to help relieve symptoms and restore health back to the eyes to ensure clear vision and long-term health.
Treatment for Dry Eye
Treatment of dry eye depends on the severity of the condition and the cause of the disease. A moist environment (humidifier, moisture shield), stopping or changing the culprit medications, treatment of comorbid conditions, like inflamed eyelid edges, rosacea, and autoimmune diseases are the essential hallmarks of therapy.
For mild cases of dry eye, hot compresses and lid scrubs with lid wipes, artificial tears up to four times a day, lubricating gel, or ointment at bedtime after lid scrub can be helpful.
In moderate cases, topical anti-inflammatory medications like Restasis, artificial tears without preservatives, short course steroids, and ointment lubricants at bedtime, with help of punctual plugs can be useful.
In severe cases of dry eye, other than the previously mentioned treatments, one must use more aggressive methods of intervention, including longer course corticosteroid, serum therapy, bandage contact lenses, Prokera therapy (amniotic membrane use), and surgical interventions including repositioning of the malposition eyelids, conjunctivoplasty, partial tarsorrhaphy, laser punctual occlusion, and pterygium excision can be helpful.
Preventing Dry Eye
There are certain steps patients can take to prevent symptoms of dry eye from occurring, which are especially useful for those at an increased risk for developing these symptoms. Simple life modifications such as keeping a humidifier at home or at work, wearing glasses on windy days, giving your eyes a break during reading or other strenuous tasks and avoiding smoking can all effectively reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms.
Your doctor will provide you with specific instructions as to how you can specifically avoid symptoms based on your individual condition.
To learn more about our Ophthalmology Services, please contact us today to schedule an appointment!