Dry eye is a condition in which a person doesn’t have enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears or their tears are of a poor quality. Good quality tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. With each blink of the eyelids, tears spread across the front surface of the eye. Tears provide lubrication, reduce the risk of eye infection, wash away foreign matter in the eye and keep the surface of the eyes smooth and clear. When light enters the eye, it first enters through the tear layer that covers the eye. If the tears are of poor quality, light will not refract properly, resulting in blurred vision. Symptoms of dry eye include blurred vision, fluctuating vision, stinging, or burning. Risk factors include age, gender, medications, medical conditions and environmental factors. Dry eye is a common condition which is chronic and progressive, but fortunately there are many options to treat dry eye.
Treatment of Dry Eye
Drops: Artificial tear drops create a protective barrier over the surface of the eye. The proper eye drops should not sting or burn, and the effects should be long lasting. Your eye doctor will recommend a specific, high quality lubricating eye drop. Consistency is key- be sure to use the drop daily as directed by your doctor in order to experience symptom relief.
Supplements: Omega-3 supplements are helpful in improving tear quality. There are many omega-3 (or fish oil) supplements available, but not all are top quality. We recommend Eye Promise EZ Tears for a few reasons. First, EZ Tears come in a triglyceride form, which is shown to have the best absorption. Second, EZ Tears are high in EPA and DHA, essential for maintaining eye health. Third, EZ Tears require only 2 pills per day, whereas many other omega-3 supplements require 4 pills per day. Some people have trouble swallowing pills, and in that case we recommend a liquid omega-3 supplement specifically formulated for dry eye from PRN. Contact our office for more details about omega-3 options.
Hygiene: Maintaining proper eye and eyelid hygiene is critical to improving your tear quality. We recommend OcuSoft lid wipes to cleanse the eyelid margin, where debris and bacteria can reside. Also, if you wear makeup, remember to properly remove it each day. Everyone has oil glands in their top and bottom eyelids, called Meibomian Glands. Commonly these oil glands become clogged. Since the oil produced in these glands is a component of healthy tears, it is critical that the oil glands function properly. Adding warm compresses to your daily routine will improve tear quality and prevent formation of styles (a clogged and infected oil gland.) We recommend a specific eye mask, called a Bruder mask, for warm compresses.
Advanced Treatment Options
Punctal plugs: A small collagen or silicone implant gently placed in the tear drain (puncta) of your eye can help retain healthy tears on the eye’s surface. Inserting this plug takes only a few minutes, and can be removed if needed. Punctal plugs are less than 1 mm in size and they look and feel invisible.
MiboFlow: MiboFlow is an in office procedure that gently heats and massages the meibomian (oil) glands of the eyelids. The oil produced in these glands is critical to a healthy tear layer. When the oil glands work properly, tears do not evaporate as quickly from the surface of the eye, which results in better comfort and vision. Initially, MiboFlow usually involves 3 treatments to get best results. In some cases, additional treatments may be needed about every 6 months to keep the oil glands functioning properly.
Lid Pro: the Lid Pro device gently cleans and exfoliates the upper and lower eyelids. This removes excess debris that collects around the base of the eyelashes. This procedure is effective for those people who experience dry eye, and is also highly beneficial for those with chronic blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids.)
Prescription Eye Drops: There are both short-term and long-term treatment options available in the form of eye drops available by prescription only. Steroid eye drops can be used short-term to help control inflammation often seen in dry eye. Restasis and Xiidra are drops that work to increase your natural tear production. Some people may notice an immediate effect, but often it takes several months for a full effect to be realized.