Dry Eye Treatment
Dry Eye Is More Common Than You Think!
Dry eye syndrome is defined as a decrease in quality and/or quantity of the tear film. Tear film covers the surface of the eye, and especially over the cornea where it forms a micron-thin film in a classic tri-layer pattern. Tear film has diverse and important functions such as:
· Optical clarity
· Eye surface defense
· Eye surface nutrition
· Decreases friction from eyelid movement over the eyeball
Not surprisingly, dry eye or decreased quality or quantity of the tear film can affect the eye and vision significantly. Dry eye is one of the most common reasons to see an ophthalmologist.
Symptoms and Signs of Dry Eye Syndrome
Dry eye could cause a wide spectrum of symptoms, including:
· Uncomfortable and frequent blinking
· Foreign body sensation
· Sandy or gritty feeling
Dry Eye Has an Inflammatory Component
Dry eye occurs mainly because of decreased tear production and/or excessive tear evaporation. Studies have shown, however, that most dry eye conditions feature some degree of inflammation in the eye surface. Usually, replacing tears through the use of artificial tears, although helpful, is not adequate. There are specific medicines that can control inflammation associated with dry eye.
Punctal Plugs for Relief of Dry Eye Symptoms
Punctal plugs, tiny devices that can be inserted into the tear ducts, work to keep the natural tear on the ocular surface by slowing tear drainage. There are basically two types of punctal plugs…permanent plugs made of silicone, and temporary ones made of collagen gel. While the permanent ones can stay in place for a long period of time until they are taken off, the temporary plugs would stay in the lacrimal punctum of the eyelid for a few months. Studies have shown improvement in signs and symptoms of dry eye after using punctal plugs.
Dry Eye and Systemic Diseases
Dry eye can happen as a result of Sjogren disease, a condition usually found in young people that attacks healthy cells and is frequently accompanied by dry mouth. On the other hand, many autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis can cause dry eye, as well. Early treatment of dry eye in these situations can change the long-term course of the disease.
Which Artificial Tear Is Right for You?
You will find some artificial tears in bottles and some are available in individual plastic tubes. Tears in plastic tubes should be used within 24 hours after opening, as they are preservative free. Artificial tears in bottles contain preservatives and can be stored and used for a longer period. While most dry eye patients can easily tolerate these preservatives, some patients, especially those with more severe dryness, cannot tolerate bottled tears and would need preservative-free artificial tears.
In every case, our licensed doctors will be happy to work with you, in order to find the right solution for your specific dry eye condition.