Dry eye is a chronic condition in which the body does not produce enough quality tears to sufficiently lubricate the eye. Without tear lubrication, the eyes may become irritated, causing burning, itchiness and excessive watering. Patients with severe cases of dry eyes may actually experience vision impairments caused by damage to the surface of the eye. Fortunately, dry eye treatments are available to help the eye produce more of its own natural tears and also manage inflammation.
Did you know…
According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists, dry eye symptoms can result from the normal aging process, hormonal changes, exposure to certain environmental conditions, problems with normal blinking or from medications such as antihistamines, oral contraceptives or antidepressants. Dry eye can also be symptomatic of general health problems, such as arthritis, or can result from UV exposure and environmental irritants.
The tears your eyes normally produce are necessary for overall eye health and clear vision. Dry eye occurs when your eyes do not produce enough tears or produce tears that do not have the proper chemical composition. The result? Unpleasant symptoms, including itching, burning, redness, watery eyes, excessive tearing—and even eye pain.
While over 80% of dry eye cases are due to blocked oil glands in the eyelids — a condition called meibomian gland dysfunction or evaporative dry eye — other factors can also cause this syndrome including gender, age, environment, medication and auto-immune disorders. At West 5 Optometry, we will recommend dry eye treatments tailored to treat your symptoms and provide lasting relief
Frequently Asked Questions
Should I be treated for dry eye?
The only way of knowing whether you need treatment for dry eye is by visiting your eye doctor for a diagnostic exam. Your eye doctor may recommend treatment if you are found to have abnormal tear production that is contributing to dryness on the surface of your eyes.
How is dry eye diagnosed?
During the examination, your Doctor of Optometry will ask you questions about your general health, your use of medications and your home and work environments to determine any factors which may be causing dry eye symptoms. This information will help your Doctor of Optometry decide whether to perform additional dry eye testing. The use of a high-powered microscope known as a slit lamp, in conjunction with special dyes, will allow your Doctor of Optometry to evaluate the quality, the amount and the distribution of tears to detect signs of dry eyes.
Can dry eye be cured?
Dry eye is usually chronic and cannot be cured, but your comfort can be improved and eye health maintained through use of artificial tears. For more severe dry eye, gels and ointments can be used, especially at bedtime. Your Doctor of Optometry is the best source to advise on the best drops for you. In some cases, small plugs may be inserted in the corner of the eyelids to slow drainage and loss of tears. Treating any underlying systemic disease, or a change of diet to include items such as fish or flax seed oil can also be helpful at times. New prescription medications are now available to help your body produce more of it’s own tears
What should I expect during treatment for dry eye?
There are several ways of treating dry eye. Together with your optometrist, you will decide upon the treatment that best fits your needs. This may include supplementing your natural tears with artificial solutions that can be purchased over-the-counter at most drug stores. You may also be prescribed a medication designed to increase natural tear production. In some cases, eye doctors may recommend conserving natural tears and preventing them from draining by blocking tear ducts or surgically closing them altogether.
Will I need to follow any special instructions during treatment?
You can continue to treat your dry eye with eye lubricating drops that provide temporary relief. Some patients also experience improvements in natural tear production by consuming an omega-3 supplement. Other steps you can do to minimize symptoms include wearing sunglasses outdoors, using a humidifier in your home, and remembering to blink when watching television or staring at a computer screen.