Dry Eye Treatments
Almost everyone will experience dry eyes at some point in their lives, be it due to normal aging process, chronic contact lens wear, after prolonged computer use, post-LASIK procedure or environmental factors such as dry, windy or air-conditioned areas. Treatment of dry eyes depends on the severity and is not limited to only eyedrops.
Though most experience dry eyes as a temporary condition, it can also be a chronic affliction that causes much discomfort and frustration to the patient. The severity of the symptoms in chronic cases may fluctuate, but never really completely disappear.
Chronic dry eye occurs when your eyes are unable to produce enough tears to keep the eyes moist and lubricated. This may be due to reasons such as the rate of evaporation in your constant surroundings is faster than your eyes and tear ducts can handle. More often than not though, chronic dry eye is caused by an underlying condition. Abnormalities involving the eye glands, diseases of the skin or tissue near the eyes, or even allergies can contribute to the chronic dry eye condition. It can also be a result of infections or inflammation in or around the eye.
Temporary dry eye is usually a result of environmental factors. Symptoms may be experienced simply from wearing contact lenses too long or entering into a dry environment.
All is not lost, however, as this condition is very treatable with the right approach. Your eye specialist or doctor can help you find ways to alleviate your symptoms, and there are even natural remedies you can try right at home.
How do you know if you have dry eyes? Symptoms such as tearing, stinging pain, foreign body sensation, sandy sensation, grittiness, intermittent blurriness, eye redness and sensitivity to glare are all tell-tale signs of dry eyes. Download the Asia Retina App and complete a quick questionnaire to find out if you have dry eyes.
Diagnosis of dry eyes can be made more precisely with the use of the TearLab applicator which analyzes your tear osmolality in a couple of seconds. Tearlab also enables us to monitor your tear osmolality after dry eye treatments to conclusively establish whether treatments are working.
Types of treatment
For the treatment of chronic dry eye, there is a range of treatments you can try.
There are times, however, where an underlying physical condition or an external factor in your environment that may be the cause of your dry eyes, so it is advised to first visit a trusted medical professional, or eye specialist to rule out some of the possible causes first. There are certain medications that can cause dry eyes as well, and if that is the case, all you simply need to do is to switch or stop the type of medication you are using.
Over-the-counter (OTC) drugs
An easily available way to treat or alleviate dry eye symptoms is simply by using eye drops called artificial tears. Artificial tears work by moistening your eyes. If your case of dry eye is light to moderate, artificial tears may be all you need to keep symptoms under control and discomfort at bay. However, you may find it a hassle to continually apply the eye drops throughout the day.
There are also ointments that require less repetitions of application. A downside of using ointments is that they tend to cloud your vision though. Ointments can coat the eyes better than eye drops, and may keep symptoms away for longer periods of time. Because they can make blur your vision, the best time to use them is right before you go to bed.
A word of caution: Not all eye drops may be suitable for alleviating dry eye symptoms. Keep clear of eye drops that claim to reduce redness in the eyes. These eye drops work by constricting blood vessels in the eye and may result in irritation with continual usage.
If you decide to approach your eye specialist or doctor to solve your dry eye condition, prescription medicine in the form of eye drops or oral medication is usually given. These medications generally focus on reducing inflammation of the eyelids and allow your eyes to be lubricated better. When your eyelids swell, they can hinder your oil glands from mixing the oils produced with the tears secreted. Without these oils, tears tend to evaporate faster, leaving you with dry eyes.
Some types of antibiotics have also been found to help with the production of oil in the meibomian glands (oil glands) around the eyes. If your doctor deems the cause of your dry eye condition to be caused by infection or inflammation, such types of anti-inflammatory antibiotics may be given to you. Anti-inflammatory prescription eyedrops may also be prescribed together to help with the condition.
Should medication prove ineffective, or if your doctor deems your case to be severe, there as also procedures that may be recommended to you to better control your dry eye condition. Such procedures are listed below:
- Closing the tear ducts. This procedure looks to partially or completely block your tear ducts. This prevents the tears from draining out of the eyes and thus remain on your eyes longer. The procedure is done by introducing special plugs known as “punctal plugs” into the opening of the tear ducts. These punctal plugs are made of silicone, are removable after installation.
- Special contact lenses. Chronic dry eye can also be alleviated by wearing special types of contact lenses known as scleral or bandage contact lenses. These contacts protect the surface of the eye and prevent moisture from evaporating. This solution is effective if your case of chronic dry eye is mainly due to tears drying up too fast.
There are several treatments you can try at home that may help with chronic dry eye. These include:
- Using a warm compress. Close your eyes and hold a warm, moist cloth over them for five minutes. This can work to reduce symptoms of dry eyes.
- Gentle eyelid massage with a light soap. Close your eyes, apply the soap with your fingertips, and gently massage your eyelids. A light soap easily available can be baby shampoo.
- Oral omega-3 supplements. The addition of omega-3 supplements and omega-3 rich foods into your diet can help to reduce dry eye symptoms. They work by reducing inflammation in your body. More research is needed, but you may find relief from starting on a routine of fish oil supplements or eating foods like salmon, and sardines.
- Eye drops made with Castor oil. Castor oil may help to keep evaporation low, which can lead to an improvement in your symptoms. Artificial tear eye drops that contain castor oil are available over-the-counter, but you are highly advised to consult with your eye doctor or medical professional before embarking on any home remedy regime.
Lifestyle choices may contribute to the development of, or deter dry eye symptoms. Here’s a few suggestions if you’re looking to control the discomfort from dry eyes with simple lifestyle changes:
- Sunglasses with side shields can hinder evaporation and allow better moisturization of the eye.
- Remembering to blink often when being engaged in a task that requires heavy attention from your eyes for extended periods, like reading or using the computer for example
- Using a humidifier introduce moisture into the air in your living environment
- Stay hydrated! Drinking more water can help with tear production.
- Avoid smoking or secondhand smoke.
Why Asia Retina Eye Surgery Centre
Besides eyedrops, we are able to offer eye sprays, dissolvable punctal plugs, vitamin supplements and intense pulsed light (IPL) laser for the treatment of dry eyes. Treatment choice is tailored according to each individual patient’s needs and preferences. At Asia Retina, there is a treatment suitable for everyone.