Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, affecting most patients. Normally, each blink spreads tears on surface of the eye. These tears provide lubrication, reduce the risk of eye infection, wash away allergens, and keep vision clear. People with dry eyes may experience irritated, gritty, scratchy or burning eyes; a feeling of something in their eyes; excess watering; and blurred vision. Other symptoms include redness, light sensitivity, watery eyes, mucus near the eye, and blurry vision.
There are two classifications of dry eye:
Factors that increase the risk of dry eye symptoms include:
Dry eyes can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination. Testing with emphasis on the evaluation of the quantity and quality of tears produced by the eyes may include:
Treatments for dry eyes aim to restore or maintain the normal amount of tears in the eye so that the patient can more comfortable. Dry eyes can be a chronic condition, and treatments may differ for each person. Treatments may include:
Anti-inflammatory drugs — These eye drops control inflammation on the surface of your eyes (the cornea) using the immune-suppressing medication cyclosporine (Restasis) or corticosteroids.
Eye Inserts — If artificial tears don’t help, another option may be a tiny eye insert. Once a day, you place a hydroxypropyl cellulose (Lacrisert) insert between your lower eyelid and your eyeball. It dissolves slowly, releasing a substance to lubricate your eye.
Tear-stimulating drugs — Available as pills, gel, or eye drops, these medications help to increase tear production.
Autologous blood serum drops — For severe dry eye that fails to respond to other treatments, these eyedrops are made with a sample of your blood. The blood is processed to remove the red blood cells and then mixed with a salt solution.
Punctal Plugs — These tiny silicone plugs plug tear ducts to reduce tear loss. By partially or completely closing your tear ducts, it can keep your tears from leaving your eye too quickly.
LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation — This treatment helps to unblock oil glands. The LipiFlow device is placed over your eye and delivers a gentle, warm massage to the lower eyelid for about 15 minutes.
Intense-Pulsed Therapy — This utilizes pulses of light to liquefy and release hardened oils that have clogged glands in the eyelids.
You don’t have to suffer from the symptoms of dry eye. Talk to your optometrist about dry eye treatment options designed to address the underlying cause of your condition.