Dealing With Dry Eye
Dry eyes are a common complaint we hear in our clinic. Unfortunately, this is often a chronic condition with symptoms that are irritating and sometimes painful.
People with dry eyes have many different symptoms, but the most common are burning, redness of the eye, and blurred vision. Many of these people have just learned to live with the symptoms, not knowing that there are therapies and treatments to help. If you’ve got bothersome dry eyes, the first person you should talk to is Dr. Pulsfus. A dry eye evaluation can determine the underlying cause of your dry eyes and ultimately find the right treatment to bring relief.
To better understand how dry eye happens, we need to first take a look at your tears. Tears are made of three different layers. These layers contain different components that work together to ensure that your eyes are adequately hydrated throughout the day. All three layers come from different structures in your eyes. The oily lipid layer is created by the meibomian glands in your eyelids. The watery aqueous layer is produced by the lacrimal glands, and your mucus (mucin) layer is made by goblet cells in the conjunctiva, the layer that covers the white part of your eye. If one structure isn't working properly to produce its tear component, your eyes suffer and feel dry. At your appointment, Dr. Pulsfus will determine which layer of the tears is affected and prescribe you a treatment to help.
So, what does treatment look like? That depends on the cause of your dry eyes. The following are the most common treatments that Dr. Pulsfus may recommend after your evaluation.
Artificial Tears: Most people suffering from dry eye symptoms have already tried over-the-counter moisturizing drops. However, these drops are not all created equal. Once we determine which layer of your tears is most contributing to your symptoms, we can select a lubricating drop that will provide longer lasting relief.
Prescription Medications: Currently, there are only 2 prescription drops on the market designed to treat dry eyes--Restasis and Xiidra. These drops are formulated to reduce inflammation and improve your tear production.
Nutrition: All dry eye sufferers can benefit from increasing their intake of Omega 3 fatty acids. This is most commonly done by taking a fish oil supplement, although simple changes to your diet can also help. Not only is fish oil beneficial for creating healthier tears, it has other health benefits such as lowering your risk for heart disease.
Eyelid Hygiene: One of the most common causes of dry eye syndrome is blepharitis. This is typically treated with eyelid cleansers targeted to kill the bacteria and mites that trigger this inflammation. Dr. Pulsfus may prescribe a specific eyelid wipe or cleansing foam to control any blepharitis and improve your tear quality.
Punctal Plugs: Punctal plugs, which are inserted through a painless in-office procedure, sit inside the tear duct and block the drainage of your tears. For some types of dry eye, this can help reduce symptoms by keeping your tears on your eyes longer. The plugs vary in shape and material depending on if they are dissolvable or permanent.
Dry eye is not something you have to live with. If you’re experiencing symptoms of burning, gritty sensation, redness, or eye fatigue, give us a call today. You might be only an office visit away from getting some relief!