What is Dry Eye?
Dry eye is a general term used to describe a heterogeneous group of diseases resulting from inadequate wetting of the cornea and conjunctiva by the precorneal tear film (PCTF). Millions of people worldwide suffer from dry eye.
Dry eye conditions are classified as various types of abnormalities that can lead to insufficient wetting of the corneal surface.
- Medications – The most common cause of dry eye is prescription and OTC medications. Usually, they will list dry eye as a side-effect.
- Older Adults – As we age, the basal tear production in the eyes can reduce. This is why most people who have dry eye are over the age of 50.
- Having an Immune Disorder – Autoimmune disorders can cause dry eyes. Common conditions include Lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and Sjogren’s syndrome.
- Having Allergies – Seasonal allergies can lead to dry, itchy scratchy eyes.
- Environmental Conditions – Individuals who work in dry, dusty or windy conditions can develop symptoms of dry eye.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Dry Eye?
Dry eye can result in a wide range of symptoms that may not be readily noticeable. If you have any of these symptoms, it is important to call our office and schedule an appointment with Dr. Epstein to diagnose the causes of your dry eye and develop a dry eye treatment plan.
The symptoms of dry eye vary considerably from one individual to another:
- foreign body sensation
- burning and general ocular discomfort.
- red eyes
- smarting or burning feeling.
- intermittent blurring or other problems with visual acuity.
- eyes tire easily
- frequency of blinking typically decreases during tasks that require concentration
- Contact lens intolerance
- Fluctuating Vision
Dry Eye Treatment with Dr. Epstein
Dry eye treatment starts with a thorough diagnosis that includes an eye exam to test your eye health and visual acuity. Next, Dr. Epstein will measure the volume and quality of your tears. If there is a problem with your tear production or the composition of your tears, a dry eye treatment plan will be developed.
Eye Drops and Ointments
For mild dry eye, our ophthalmologist may recommend eye drops, gels and/or ointments. Eye drops are typically used during the day to keep your eyes hydrated and to reduce symptoms. Ointments are placed in the eyes at night to help keep your eyes hydrated while you sleep.
Most prescription or OTC medications list dry eye as a side effect, our ophthalmologist may recommend talking to your family doctor about switching to medications that do not cause symptoms of dry eye.
Medications that Increase Tear Production
There are prescription medications that can increase your natural tear production.
Temporarily or Permanently Closing Your Tear Ducts
If drops, ointments, and switching medications doesn’t help alleviate your dry eye symptoms, our ophthalmologist may recommend inserting plugs into your tear ducts to close them. This quick in office procedure usually involves inserting temporary tear duct plugs to see if this helps alleviate your symptoms. If it does, we may recommend permanent tear duct plugs.
NEW TREATMENTS BRING MORE COMFORT TO DRY EYES
Written by Robert L. Epstein, M.D.
Dry eyes annoy many people especially during the winter. People with dry eyes generally have eye irritation.
Other people with tear insufficiency may even have tears running down the face
yet the real problem is inadequate tear output without the extra stimulation that eye irritation makes.
Many people with sensitivity to fluorescent light actually have dry eyes as the cause.
Dry eyes can cause chronic blurring of vision. Diseases and medications can dry the eyes. Such medicines include those for allergy relief, diuretics or water pills, and medications women may take for urinary frequency. Any disease that increases fluid loss such as diarrhea or fever can worsen dry eyes. Eye dryness can cause difficulty wearing contact lenses and make for more suffering from other problems like eye allergy, cigarette smoke eye irritation, and chronic eyelid infection. Sometimes very mild pain from dry may make the eyes itch, yet eye rubbing may worsen the condition by mildly injuring the front eye surface.For dry eyes there are various types of artificial tears to augment moisture.
Artificial tears need to be used on a regular basis and often enough during the day to allow the tissue of the cornea to repair itself. This means at least three times daily and often as much as ten times daily, not just when eyes hurt, in order to reverse the subtle eye damage that causes irritation. One eye drop, SootheR, which contains mineral oil, slows tear evaporation and is useful twice daily in addition to other tear supplements. Drinking more water, reducing excessive alcohol consumption, placing skin lotion on the skin to lessens body fluid evaporation during the cold, dry months, sleeping in a room with a humidifier helps, and taking flax seed oil dietary supplement to reduce tear evaporation all may help reduce dry eye problems. If your urine is deep yellow, you should drink more water.There are new treatments and an eye-MD (ophthalmologist) should be consulted for help. A more or less permanent improvement in eye moisture can be accomplished when the doctor painlessly, non-surgically inserts tiny gel plugs into the tear removal system while the patient sits in the examining chair. The newer versions of plugs cannot be seen or felt, their effect remains for years, and health insurance pays for their insertion. Slowing tear removal not only improves eye comfort but may improve vision. New medicines are helping dry eye sufferers. Many people have dry eye due to an immune reaction in the body against the tear glands. A FDA-approved new medicine called RestasisR or Cyclosporine helps the eye make more of its own moisture by reversing that immune reaction. It takes months for RestasisR to repair the tear making glands. Treatment of dry eyes often involves all the methods taken together for best effect.
If you are having symptoms of dry eye, give our The Center for Corrective Eye Surgery office a call today at (815) 363-2020 to schedule an appointment.