Are your eyes trying to tell you something? If you are experiencing discomfort in your eyes, it could be due to dry eye disease, a condition that can get worse over time. The signs and symptoms of dry eye disease (also called dry eye syndrome or chronic dry eye) vary from person to person, but some of the common symptoms include:
- Pain or stinging
- Occasional blurry vision
- Excess tearing/watery eyes
- Light sensitivity
- A gritty sensation
- Feeling of something in the eye
- Itchy eyes
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to find out what’s really going on. Giving us a call is a good start.
Watch Dr. Matthew Clary and Dr. Ryan N. Mercer discuss dry eye syndrome.
Causes of Dry Eye
Dry eye can be caused by an imbalance in the tear-flow system of the eye or by the drying out of the tear film. This can be due to dry air created by air conditioning, ceiling fans, heat, and other environmental issues. Other conditions that may cause dry eyes are:
- Natural aging/menopause.
- Medication side effects (antihistamines/birth control)
- Diseases affecting the ability to make tears (Sjogren's, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus).
- Structural problems with the eyelids that don't allow them to close properly.
Other risk factors and triggers of dry eye can include:
- Spending too much time on your computer or phone
- Being in dry or cold climate
- Wearing contact lenses
- Having LASIK or cataract surgery
Treatment for Dry Eye
Though dry eyes cannot be cured, there are a variety of methods to control it. You should discuss the options with an ophthalmologist who can customize your treatment plan. The key is to find out exactly what type of Dry Eye Syndrome you have, why you have it, and outline a treatment strategy specific for those issues. Treatment options for dry eyes include:
- Artificial Tear Drops/Ointments: The use of artificial teardrops (AT’s) is the primary treatment for dry eye. Most are available over the counter. No one drop works for everyone, so you might have to experiment to find the drop that works for you. If you have chronic dry eye, it is important to use the drops even when your eyes feel fine, to keep them lubricated. If your eyes dry out while you sleep, you can use a thicker lubricant gel prior to bedtime
- XIIDRA™ Prescription Eye Drops: Xiidra™ (lifitegrast ophthalmic solution) 5% is a prescription eye drop used to treat the signs and symptoms of dry eye disease.
- Punctal Occlusion: Sometimes it is necessary to close the ducts that drain tears out of the eye. This is done via a painless procedure where a plug is inserted into the tear drain of the lower eyelid. These plugs will hold tears around the eyes as long as they are in place. They can be easily removed if desired. In rare occurrences, the plugs may come out spontaneously or migrate down the tear drain. Many patients find that the plugs improve comfort and reduce the need for artificial tears.
- Lotemax®: The Eye Center is proud to offer the new formulation of Lotemax®, the Gel Drop. This drop delivers all the treatment power of a traditional Lotemax in an improved formulation for efficacy and tolerance. If you have those persistent red, irritated eyes that seem immune to therapy, come visit us to see if the Lotemax Gel Drop is right for you.
- Refresh Optive Advanced: Allergan recently launched Refresh Optive Advanced, a new over-the-counter artificial tear option for patients suffering from dry-eye symptoms. Refresh Optive Advanced is a lipid-enhanced tear with the low blur and comfort of an aqueous tear, Allergan says. It features a comprehensive, triple-action formulation that works on all three layers of the tear film to reduce tear evaporation, hydrate and lubricate for dry eye symptom relief. For information, visit www.refreshbrand.com.
- Restasis: In 2002, the FDA approved the prescription eye drop Restasis for the treatment of chronic dry eye. It is currently the only prescription eye drop that helps increase tear production and tear quality.
- Natural Methods: Maintaining adequate water intake is critical. Fish and Flaxseed Oils will improve the oily layer of the natural tears and allow them to function for a longer period of time. Talk with your doctor before beginning any new vitamins.
- Other Medications: Other medications, including topical steroids, may also be beneficial in some cases to relieve any inflammation. Lacrisert is a small insert that when placed behind the lower eyelid, slowly dissolves and lubricates the eye throughout the day.
- Surgery: If needed, the ducts that drain tears into the nose can be permanently closed to allow more tears to remain around the eye. Structural eyelid defects can often be repaired.
Do you suffer from dry eyes?
Now’s the time to give us a call today to schedule an appointment. Be sure to let your eye doctor know about unusual, uncomfortable or bothersome about your eyes, even if you think it’s minor. Ask plenty of questions. “Is this symptom normal?” “What can we do to treat this symptom?” “Could this be dry eye disease?” A two-way conversation with The Eye Center can help us get to the bottom of your eye symptoms and get you the relief you’ve been waiting for.
Contact us for more information about our life-changing services. To schedule an appointment, you may call 803-256-0641.