Dry Eye Treatment
What Is Dry Eye Syndrome?
Chronic Dry Eye, 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.
Dry Eye Symptoms
Dry eye symptoms are most common in people ages 50 and older, however, they can result from medical injuries or certain medications. They can also occur in women who experience the change in hormones from pregnancy. The most common causes of dry eye include the following:
- Blood-pressure medications
- Eye injury
- Thyroid disease
Dry Eye Treatment Options
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. You can call 540-722-6200 to speak with board-certified ophthalmologist Dr. Stefano about any additional eye concerns.
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.
A normal healthy tear film will 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.
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.
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.