Dry Eye Treatment
Chronic Dry Eye (keratoconjunctivitis sicca), also known as Dry Eye Syndrome, is a medical condition that results from the eyes’ reduced ability to produce tears of the normal quantity or quality. Recent studies show that this condition affects more than 3.2 million Americans. Tears are surprisingly complex in nature, being formed by several different types of glands on the outer surface of the eye, the inner surface of the eyelids, and special glands deep within the skin of the eye lids. And so, a problem with any or several of these components can lead to inadequate tear formation.
It is important to realize that not all dry eye conditions are treated in the same way. At the Shenandoah LASIK and Cataract Center, we perform the latest tests to determine the best treatment for each patient.
Dry Eye Treatment Options
- Artificial Tear Replacement – Frequently, artificial tear supplement drops are a first treatment regimen. There are many different brands and forms of ocular lubricating drops available, each with their own components which target some or all of the three layers of a normal tear film. They can be used to relieve burning and irritation for a limited period of time. Artificial tear ointments can be useful for longer periods, especially overnight. Recent studies have determined that there is frequently an inflammatory component to dry eye. And sometimes a mild steroidal eye drop is useful.
- Tear Stimulant Drops – Prescription medications in drop form (RestasisTM and XiidraTM) are now available which act to stimulate increased production of tears by the eye itself.
- Plugs – One of the functions of a normal healthy tear film is to wash the surface of the eye and flush dirt, bacteria and other debris into small “drains” (called lacrimal puncta) located on the inner corner of our eyelids. So one way to prevent excess loss of tears is to occlude or “plug” those puncta. Punctal plugs are tiny, biocompatible devices inserted into tear ducts to block drainage.
- Nutritional Supplements – Ophthalmologists will suggest taking natural supplements such as fish oil, flax seed oil and vitamin E — a combination can be found in TheraTears Nutrition capsules with Omega3.
- LipiFlow – Doctors are moving from simply rescuing dry eye patients to prevention. 86% of dry eye patients suffer from Meibomian Gland Disease (MGD). Much of the movement to include prevention is being driven by the ability to image the glands enabling the doctor and the patient to see gland damage much earlier than was previously possible. Lipiflow helps with this dysfunction to get your glands producing tears again. Sadly, gland loss is permanent. Therefore, it is important to identify non-functioning glands and treat them (by removing the obstruction) as soon as possible.