Best Treatments for Dry Eyes
Dry eye is a common cause for eye discomfort and may be a side-effect of the modern lifestyle. You don’t have to suffer, treatment for dry eyes can in many cases restore the natural moisture balance to your eyes and relieve discomfort caused by dry eye.
Dry eye has a range of causes but usually either the eye doesn’t produce enough tears or the quality of the tears is lacking.
A thin layer of tears bathes the front surface of the eye. These tears are essential to keep your eyes healthy and lubricated. The layers include an oily layer, a watery (or aqueous layer), and a mucus layer.
Since dry eye is so common, people often overlook the potential seriousness. Depending on the severity, dry eye may lead to serious discomfort or vision problems.
This condition affects different people in different ways depending on the severity. Here are some of the more common symptoms
- Red eyes
- Itchy eyes
- Feeling like there is a foreign-body like an eyelash in your eyes
- Fluctuating vision
- Blurry vision
- Sensitivity to light or glare
- Excessive tearing
- You can’t comfortably wear contact lenses for as long as usual
- Sometimes people experience a sharp pain while sleeping due to eye dryness
If you have the previously listed symptoms, you may have dry eye disease. It can affect one or both of your eyes. If this sounds familiar, schedule an appointment with your optometrist for a diagnosis and to discuss appropriate treatment options.
Diagnosing Dry Eye In Order to Determine the Best Treatment
For effective treatment, a correct diagnosis of the cause of your dry eye condition is necessary. Depending on which tear layer is compromised, the treatment for dry eye varies. For example, our doctors must determine whether you have aqueous deficient dry eye or an evaporative dry eye condition. They are treated differently even though both result in eyes that feel dry.
To make this determination, your eye doctor may conduct one or more of the following tests:
- Tear Film Osmolarity
- Dye testing
- Imaging of the meibomianglands
- Tear Break-up time
- Ocular surface matrix metalloproteinase9 (MMP-9)
Be sure to discuss your lifestyle and existing medications with your eye doctor. Some medications like antidepressants, antihistamines, antidepressants, or some birth control pills may cause dry eye. Knowing your medications may help your optometrist identify the source of your dry eye and the best treatment.
Treatment For Dry Eyes
Once your doctor diagnosed your condition, a treatment plan is often the next step. In some cases, lifestyle changes may help but in other cases, you may need other interventions.
Sometimes nutritional supplements may help such as Omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy oils are commonly found in fatty fish or nuts. They help maintain moisture in the eyes. Improved hydration also can help in situations where the patient doesn’t normally drink enough fluids.
Artificial tears or eyedrops are commonly used to treat mild dry eye caused by excessive reading, studying, or computer use. In this case, frequent breaks to encourage blinking may also help since people tend to blink less while intensely staring at pages or screens.
There are variations in the formulations among artificial tears, so be sure to follow your optometrist’s advice to ensure you are using the most suitable product for your needs. In some cases over the counter artificial tears may help, in other cases, you may need more specialized prescription eye drops.
Some options include prescription eyedrops that reduce inflammation rather than simply lubricating the eye. Other prescription drops may address other underlying issues contributing to dry eye.
Sometimes Punctal plugs are inserted to help tears stay on the surface of your eyes a little longer by preventing the tears from quickly draining.
Sometimes dry eye is caused at least partially by clogged oil glands near the base of the eyelashes. In this case, warm compresses may help offer relief. The heat softens the hardened oils and helps unclog these oil glands. This treatment often involves applying 108 degrees Fahrenheit compresses for 10 minutes or longer.
Sometimes simple compresses are not enough. In that case, your optometrist may prescribe LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation System which is an in-office procedure that combines controlled heat therapy with pulsed pressure to open clogged meibomian glands and restore the balance of oils in the tear film layers.
In some cases, dry eye may be caused by a condition or defect in the eyelid. Depending on the condition, your eye doctor may prescribe an eyelid cleaning regimen, prescription antibiotics, or other treatment interventions.
As you can see, there are so many different causes of eye dryness so the best treatment will vary.
Next Steps If You Suffer From Dry Eye
The first step for any treatment plan is always a diagnosis. Schedule an eye examination with your eye care professional to determine the cause of your dry eye. Depending on the cause and severity, your eye doctor may recommend the best lifestyle interventions or treatments to restore moisture to your eyes.
All of this starts by visiting an optometrist. Charlotte areas trust Piedmont Eye Care to relieve their dry eye. Call today to make an appointment if you are a Charlotte resident suffering from dry or itchy eyes.