Dry eye is one of the most common eye problems in the world. The condition takes its name from the main symptom associated with it – eyes that feel dry, stiff, and uncomfortable. However, these are just a few of the effects that dry eye can have. Exactly why some people develop dry eye can vary. Our eyes contain a thin layer of tear film, the purpose of which is to keep our eyes hydrated, lubricated and comfortable. This tear film also protects our eyes from potentially harmful external microorganisms. However, for this tear film to be effective, it needs a careful balance of ingredients. It’s not just water, but a complex blend of oils and proteins too. If there is a problem with any of these ingredients, such a not producing enough, or if tear film drains too quickly, you are likely to suffer from the symptoms of dry eye.
Living with the effects of dry eyes can be inconvenient, uncomfortable, and even debilitating. Fortunately, if you are one of the estimated 48% of U.S. adults that regularly experience dry eye symptoms, there are treatments that can help reduce its effects.
Dry eye causes patients to experience a range of symptoms. These include:
- Blurred vision
- Red eyes
- A burning or gritty sensation affecting the eyes
- Stiffness when you blink
- Sensitivity to light
- Heavy or fatigued eyes
Of course, these are also symptoms of many other eye conditions. The best way to confirm if you are suffering from dry eye is to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor who can assess the health of your eyes and your vision for any abnormalities or existing conditions.
There are plenty of different treatments that patients with dry eye may be recommended to try, which could help get their symptoms under control. In many cases, patients work through various options to find the one that is most effective for them.
Nearly all patients with dry eye will start out being recommended to try topical treatments. These include a range of different options, such as:
- Artificial tears, which are used to lubricate the eyes.
- Allergy eyedrops, which help to reduce inflammation and irritation.
- Mucolytic eyedrops, which are used to break up mucus affecting tear film.
- Steroid eyedrops, to reduce inflammation.
- Eye gels.
- Eye ointments, although these tend to blur vision and can have limited use in the daytime.
If you currently use contact lenses, dry eyes may be making them difficult and uncomfortable to wear and handle. You may be struggling to use them at all. Sometime, dry eye is made worse by using certain types of contact lenses. Fortunately, there are some specialist varieties that can be used successfully with dry eyes and that can ensure comfortable and clear vision. Ask your eye doctor if you would benefit from speciality contact lenses.
Supplements have also been shown to be beneficial in helping to counteract dry eye. Some of the most effective are Omega-3, Lutein and Zeaxanthin. Omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation of the tear glands and surface of the eyes, which Lutein and Zeaxanthin are important antioxidants. Your eye doctor will be able to advise you which supplements could benefit you.
This treatment is recommended for patients whose dry eye is believed to be being caused by blockages in the gland that provide oil for the tear film. Meibomian gland expression combines heat and massage to break down globules of hardened oils and release them from the gland, enabling oil to flow freely into tear film again. This can be done manually, or using a solution such as LipiFlow, which is a thermal pulsation system that delivers heat and gentle pulses electronically to the eyes.
IPL treatment is an innovative new approach to treating dry eye caused by meibomian gland blockages. Light energy from IPL warms the meibomian glands so that blockages are broken down and then removed. The treatment is painless, with a series of around 5 flashes applied to each eye in turn taking just a few minutes. There is no downtime and patients can get back to their usual activities right away. Many patients who undergo IPL treatment require regular maintenance treatments to keep their dry eye symptoms under control.
If you are suffering from dry eye and would like more information about the treatment options available, don’t hesitate to speak to our experienced and knowledgeable team at (310) 796-5665.