Dry Eye Treatment

Dry Eye Treatment

Dry Eye Treatment

Dry eye is a condition where the eyes are unable to produce enough tears or the right quality of tears to be healthy or comfortable. If the tears aren't composed of the right balance of oil, water, and mucus, it can lead to dry eye symptoms. This condition is quite common and often chronic, especially in older adults.


Causes of Dry Eye

Decreased tear production, also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, can be due to aging, certain medical conditions like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, scleroderma, Sjogren's syndrome, thyroid disorders, and vitamin A deficiency. Certain medications, including antihistamines, decongestants, hormone replacement therapy, antidepressants, and drugs for high blood pressure, acne, Parkinson's and birth control, can also reduce tear production.

On the other hand, increased tear evaporation can occur due to wind, smoke or dry air, blinking less often, which tends to occur when you're concentrating, for instance, while reading, driving or working at a computer.

In many cases, dry eye is caused by Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). The Meibomian glands are small oil glands located on the edge of your eyelids. These glands produce the oil that forms the outer layer of your tears. This oil is vital as it prevents the water in your tears from evaporating.

In individuals with MGD, these glands don't produce enough oil or the quality of the oil is poor. When this happens, your tears evaporate too quickly leading to dry eye symptoms.


Symptoms of Dry Eye

The symptoms of dry eye can vary from person to person, but they generally include a stinging or burning sensation in the eyes, redness, and a gritty feeling as if there's something in the eyes.

You may also experience sensitivity to light, blurred vision or eye fatigue. Strangely enough, dry eye can make your eyes watery. This is because dryness on the eye's surface sometimes will over-stimulate production of the watery component of your tears as a protective mechanism. It's crucial to see an eye care professional if you've had prolonged signs and symptoms of dry eye, including red, irritated, tired or painful eyes.


Dry Eye Diagnosis

If you're experiencing symptoms of dry eye, your eye doctor will perform a comprehensive eye exam. The doctor may measure your tear production using the Schirmer test.

Another method of diagnosis includes the use of dyes in eye drops to determine the surface condition of your eyes. Your doctor examines your eyes with a special lamp, called a slit lamp. The dye stains areas of the cornea where there's cell damage, which can help diagnose dry eye.


Home Remedies for Dry Eye

There are also several home remedies that can help ease the symptoms of dry eye. For instance, applying a warm compress to the eyes can help unclog blocked Meibomian glands and improve the quality of your tears.

Another simple way to help dry eye is by staying hydrated. Drinking plenty of water can prevent dehydration, which may reduce the symptoms of dry eye.


Treatments for Dry Eye

Your doctor might recommend prescription eye drops, ointments, or lubricants that help produce more tears and treat inflammation.

In more severe cases, your doctor may suggest in-office therapies or a procedure to close your tear ducts to reduce tear loss. This is typically done by inserting silicone plugs into the tear ducts to prevent tears from flowing away from the eye.

There are also specialty contact lenses designed for individuals with dry eyes. These lenses, known as scleral lenses, cover the cornea and create a moisture-rich environment that can relieve dry eye symptoms.