Kremer Eye Center Blog
Dry Eye Treatments
January 28, 2014
“Dry eye,” also known as “dry eye syndrome,” is a condition where the eye fails to manufacture enough tears or the tears are not the proper consistency. Hence, the tears evaporate off the eye too quickly. Inflammation of the eye surface can accompany dry eye. If not treated promptly, it can result in pain, eye ulcers, corneal scarring, or some degree of vision loss. However, permanent vision loss from dry eye is rare. Additionally, dry eye can make certain activities like computer use and prolonged periods of reading difficult. It can also lower tolerance for particularly dry environments like airplane cabins.
Types of Dry Eye
- Aqueous Tear-Deficient Dry Eye: An eye disorder where the lacrimal glands do not make sufficient amounts of watery tear components to keep the eye surface healthy.
- Evaporative Dry Eye: This condition results from tarsal gland inflammation. Located within the eyelids, these glands produce the lipid (oily) part of tears. The lipid layer slows evaporation, keeping the tears stable.
Causes of Dry Eye
- Inflammation of the eye surface, lacrimal glands, and/or conjunctiva. Chronic conjunctivitis can be caused by various eye diseases, infections, or exposure to irritants such as tobacco smoke, chemical fumes, and air drafts.
- Any disease which alters tear components.
- Forward protrusion of the eye from thyroid disease.
- Cosmetic eye surgery.
- Exposure keratitis (eyelids do not completely close when asleep).
- Certain medications such as decongestants, antihistamines, tranquilizers, blood pressure drugs, Parkinson’s medications, birth control pills, and anti-depressants.
- Wearing contact lenses.
Dry Eye Symptoms
- Burning and/or stinging of the eye(s)
- Gritty feeling eye(s)
- Alternating episodes of excessive tears and very dry eyes
- Stringy eye discharge
- Eye pain and/or redness
- Periods of blurry vision
- Eyelids feel heavy
- Unable to cry when upset
- Discomfort associated with wearing contact lenses
- Eye fatigue
- Reduced tolerance to activities requiring prolonged eye use (reading, computer work, etc.
Dry Eye Treatments
All of the following dry eye treatments should be discussed with either a medical or eye doctor:
- Address any underlying disease(s) that may be causing symptoms.
- “Home treatments” such as artificial tears, warm compresses, or lid scrubs.
- Use Cyclosporine, the only prescription anti-inflammatory medication available for treating dry eye. It works by increasing tear production, decreasing corneal damage, and reducing dry eye symptoms.
- In severe cases of dry eye, corticosteroid eye drops may be needed for a short period to reduce inflammation.
- Switch to alternative medications that do not have dry eyes as a side effect.
- Switch to another type of contact lens and/or reduce the number of hours spent wearing them. In severe dry eye cases, eye doctors often recommend not wearing contact lenses at all.
- Plug the drainage holes located at the inner corners of the eyelids. This is where tears drain into the nose from the eye. Insertion of lacrimal plugs is a temporary measure. However, in severe cases, permanent plugs may be considered.
- Punctal cautery may also be recommended to close these drainage holes permanently. This simple procedure helps retain the tears on the eye for a longer period.
- Dietary sources and supplements of omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) may decrease dry eye irritation.
- Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Therapy is a ground-breaking new treatment for moderate to severe dry eye, available at Kremer Eye Center. Treatments are generally repeated once a month over the course of 4 months.
Resources: Retrieved October 28, 2013.
National Eye Institute (2013). Facts about dry eye. Retrieved from: http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/dryeye/dryeye.asp