WHAT IS DRY EYE DISEASE?
An estimated 30-40 million people in the U.S. suffer from Dry Eyes. The term “Dry Eyes” can be confusing, since one of the most common symptoms is excessive watering. However, the eye makes two different types of tears. The first type, called lubricating tears, is produced slowly and steadily throughout the day. Lubricating tears contain a precise balance of mucous, water, oil, nutrient proteins, and antibodies that nourish and protect the front surface of the eye.
The second type of tear, called a reflex tear, has little lubricating value. Reflex tears serve as a kind of emergency response to flood the eye upon sudden irritation or injury. Reflex tears may occur when you have foreign matter in your eye, when you are cutting onions, when you are exposed to smoke, or when you accidentally scratch your eye. The reflex tears gush out in such large quantities that the tear drainage system can accommodate them, causing them to spill out onto your cheeks. Still another cause of reflex tearing is irritation of the eye from lack of lubricating tears. If your eye is not producing enough lubricating tears, you have Dry Eyes.
In greater detail, the tears have three layers; the mucous layer that lays over the cornea, the watery tear layer, and then the oily layer that floats on the surface of the watery layer. Any of these three layers may be deficient, leading to varying types of dry eye diagnosis.
SYMPTOMS OF DRY EYE
- Watery eyes
- Gritty or sandy feeling
- Eyes that itch and burn
- Vision that becomes blurred after periods of reading, watching TV, or using a computer
- Red, irritated eyes that produce a mucus discharge
CAUSES OF DRY EYE
- Age: As we get older, glands in the eyelid produce less oil. Oil keeps tears from evaporating off the eye. Decreased oil production allows tears to evaporate too quickly, leaving the eye too dry.
- Diseases including diabetes, Sjogren’s and Parkinson’s Disease
- Hormonal changes, especially after menopause
- Prescription medications: These include some blood pressure medications, antihistamines, diuretics, antidepressants, anti-anxiety pills, sleeping pills and pain medications. Over-the-counter medications including some cold and allergy products, motion sickness remedies, and sleep aids can also cause dry eye.
- Hot, dry or windy conditions; High altitude, air-conditioning and smoke can also cause dry eye.
- Reading, using a computer or watching TV
- Contact lenses
- Eye surgery: Some types of eye surgery, including LASIK may irritate Dry Eye.
- Inflammation: Recent research suggests that Dry Eye may be caused by inflammation due to an imbalance of “good” fats and “bad” fats.
Obtain a formal diagnosis before treating!
TREATMENTS FOR DRY EYE
Another effective way to alleviate Dry Eye is the Punctal Plug. Punctal plugs help the eyes make better and longer use of the small amount of lubricating tears they produce. This is accomplished by closing off the small funnel-like drain opening found in the inner corner of the upper and lower eyelids. The plugs can be placed in the two tear ducts, top and bottom, in both eyes or in only the lower ducts.
When treating Dry Eye, it is important to note that drops alone are not effective, because 87% of Dry Eye is caused by Meibomian gland dysfunction. When you visit Southland Eye, your doctor will formulate a personalized treatment plan for you and your specific Dry Eye symptoms.
Drops (Over the counter)
You will see many drops at the store for various eye problems. We prefer the following
- Refresh drops
- Refresh Ointment for sever situations
There is significant research showing that omega 3 fatty acids taken as a supplement can improve dry eye symptoms.. We suggest the following brands for their high bioavailability:
Your doctor may suggest that medication can assist in relieving your symptoms, and possibly as a treatment of your dry eye disorder. Medication strategies include:
- Mild steroids to lessen inflammation and symptoms
- Antibiotics when chronic infections are present
There are multiple procedures to consider for treatment of dry eyes.
- Lid scrubs
- Self-managed hot compresses and lid massage
- Meibomian gland expression