Dry eye, a lack of sufficient moisture and lubrication in the eye, is one of the most commonly diagnosed ophthalmic conditions in the United States. Some studies estimate it affects close to 10% of the population.
Common symptoms include dryness, grittiness, blurred or variable vision, burning, ocular fatigue, redness, soreness and foreign-body sensation. Surprisingly, dry eye is also the most common cause of tearing! Dry eye is caused by abnormalities or deficiencies in the tear film of the eye. Common causes are aging, hormone changes after menopause, eyelid inflammation, autoimmune diseases, contact lens wear, weather conditions and many medications (especially allergy medications, diuretics, beta blockers and sleeping pills).
Although dry eye in the majority of cases is not dangerous to your vision, the impact it can have on the comfort of the eyes, quality of vision, and the ability to perform routine visual tasks at work and home can be quite dramatic.
Once a comprehensive dry eye evaluation has been completed in the office, our physicians will help customize a personal treatment regimen based on your needs. Although there are many treatments available and everyone is different in their needs, some of the common management strategies are listed below.
There are many over the counter drops that lubricate the eyes. Some come in a bottle and have preservatives. They can be used up to 5 times a day. Others have no preservatives and can be used as often as every hour.
Treating eyelid conditions such as blepharitis helps. Most commonly, hot compresses for five minutes once or twice a day can help many people. Consider using a hot tea bag compress. In some instances oral medications (pills) are needed to calm inflamed eyelids. Medical grade hot compress goggles called Tranquileyes are available in the Lombard optical store.
Omega 3 oils help improve can help improve the quality of tears. Several forms are available (Fish oil, Flax seed oil (1000 mg/day), and Thera-tears (up to 3 capsules/day).
IPL treatments have been used for over a decade to help skin with blood vessel growth. Now IPL treatments can help severe dry eyes by restoring our oil glands. The results can be dramatic for some patients who feel like their eyes are back to normal.
Our eyes have two holes in each eyelid that drain away the tears. We can put a small plug into this hole that dissolves in 6 months. Many patients have fewer symptoms, better wear with contact lenses, and less need for artificial tears.
Restasis is a drop that helps the body make new tears. You must take the drops for one to two months before judging if it has started to work. Other people benefit from anti-inflammatory drops such as steroids.