Treatment of Dry Eyes
The diagnosis and treatment of dry eyes is complex and requires patience and persistence on the part of the eye doctor and the patient. With careful diagnosis and a systematic therapeutic approach, sufferers of dry eye syndrome can most often experience considerable improvement. Different treatment options will be recommended based on the type, severity, and potential causes of your dry eye. Below are some examples of treatment options that may be presented to you.
If you have mild or moderate dry eyes, the first course of treatment may be to use preservative-free artificial tears. The selection of the exact type of artificial tear eye drop is important. Depending on the nature of your tear film deficiency, we may have you use a specific type of artificial tear that has different characteristics in terms of salt content and viscosity. Follow these instructions carefully.
Supplements And Environmental Changes
There may some environmental factors that you need to alter to make you more comfortable, such as how and where you are exposed to heat ducts or fans blowing, as well as attempting to keep your environment at a proper humidity level. Sometimes, if the oily layer of the tear film is deficient, we may suggest that you increase your consumption of oily fish or take flax seed oil as a dietary supplement. Most likely, you will be asked to drink plenty of water.
If these approaches do not help relieve your dry eye symptoms, we may suggest the insertion of punctal plugs that will slow down or even stop the drainage of tears from the eye. These plugs are easily and comfortably placed in the Lacrimal Puncta in your eyelids. Initially you may have a temporary dissolving plug put in place to see if your dry eye symptoms are actually responsive to this treatment. If the results are good, it may be necessary to place a more permanent type of plug in the Lacrimal Puncta to affect a long-term solution.
For patients with moderate to severe dry eyes who may have already tried using artificial tear eye drops and punctual plugs without relief, the prescription of Restasis eye drops, with or without the other treatments, can often help alleviate your symptoms. Restasis works by preventing a type of inflammatory cell from entering the Lacrimal Gland, allowing your Lacrimal Gland to function more effectively to make more of your own natural tears. Restasis eye drops require several weeks of use to become effective, so use these drops exactly as they are prescribed and please be patient.
Even with the above treatment options, there are some patients that may not respond as well as we would like due to some underlying low-grade inflammatory or infectious process. In these cases, it may be necessary for us to also prescribe an oral antibiotic such as doxycycline or an anti-inflammatory eye drop such as a steroid eye drop.
LipiFlow is a simple 12-minute treatment used to help treat the symptoms of MGD-related Dry Eye (Meibomian Gland Dysfunction). This proven treatment, which takes place in the Spector Eye Care office, uses single-use sterile devices to deliver a combination of heat to the inner lids and simultaneous therapeutic massage to the outer lids, removing blockages from the Meibomian glands. These newly cleared glands allow your eye to maintain the necessary protective oily layer that keeps your eyes moist and healthy. To learn more about LipiFlow, follow this link.
Before crafting a treatment plan for your Dry Eyes, it is important to determine whether or not allergies are a factor affecting your eye health. Recent studies have estimated that between 15% and 40% of the population are affected by ocular allergy, but seasonal allergic conjunctivitis and perennial allergic conjunctivitis may account for up to 95% of those cases. Allergic conjunctivitis is under-diagnosed due to many factors, including the common overlap of symptoms with those of Dry Eye Disease. These conditions may also coexist, exacerbating the symptoms of each. With a simple skin surface test, your doctor will evaluate your sensitivity to 58 different ocular allergens, which will vastly improve the individualized course of treatment for your Dry Eye.