Causes of dry eye syndrome include decreased tear production, poor tear film quality, or excessive tear evaporation. Age is also a factor because the tiny glands in our eyelids (meibomian glands) produce less oil as we get older. This problem is widespread in middle-aged women. The oil from these glands prevents the natural tears on our eyes from evaporating. The decreased oil production allows tears to evaporate too quickly, leaving the eye dry. Infection or clogging of the meibomian glands can also lead to dry eye. Other factors that can cause dry eye syndrome include smoking, diabetes, and menopause. Other factors that can influence dry eye syndrome are excessive reading, using a computer, or watching TV. We blink less when concentrating on such activities, and decreased blinking allows the eye to dry out faster. Contact lenses can also be a problem with dry eyes.
Common dry eye symptoms are wide-ranging and can include excessive watering, one of the most common patient complaints is the feeling of a tiny spec of sand in your eye, grittiness, dryness, burning, blurred vision, tired eyes, redness, and soreness. Your eyes may even produce a mucus discharge.
Based on the severity, our doctors will prescribe a custom treatment plan for short and long-term relief. In many cases, this may include a regime of medicated ophthalmic drops, punctal plugs, vitamin therapy, or artificial tears. These therapies may not alleviate symptoms in more severe cases and may require additional treatment options. Dry eyes can be disabling for some patients and can even cause sight-threatening corneal complications.
Prokera is a new treatment for chronic dry eye that heals the surface of your eye (cornea) and returns your eye to a normal, healthy state. It is a simple procedure and is easily inserted and removed in our office. Once removed, your cornea is rejuvenated so you can see and feel better.
Artificial Tears – Artificial tears are eye drops used to lubricate dry eyes and help maintain moisture on the outer surface of your eyes. They are used to treat dry eyes that result from aging, certain medications, a medical condition, eye surgery, or environmental factors, such as smoky or windy conditions. They are available without a prescription. Artificial tears may also contain thickening agents, which keep the solution on the surface of your eyes longer.
Vitamin Therapy – During the past decade, the ophthalmic industry has increased research into vitamins and other nutritional supplements used to treat dry eye. This data is based on the research and findings we have seen in our industry in recent years. We are pleased to see vitamin or nutritional supplement-based therapy for dry eye entering the mainstream treatment regimen within ophthalmology. In addition to our Vitamin Therapy regimens in the office, common vitamins aiding in dry eye include: flaxseed oil, evening primrose oil, fish oil, beta carotene, and vitamin A.
Punctal Plugs – Another technique involves using Punctal Plugs, which our doctors can easily insert into the lower or upper punctum. There are numerous types of punctal plugs with varying uses and properties depending on the materials from which they are made. The most common are divided into two groups: temporary collagen plugs placed at the top of the puncta and a more permanent plug inserted into the canaliculus.
LipiFlow – LipiFow is a new procedure designed to treat the root cause of Evaporative Dry Eye, blocked meibomian glands. Clearing these blocked glands can allow them to resume the natural production of lipids (oils) needed for a healthy tear film. Some dry eye treatments attempt to add more liquid to your tear, but without the complex natural oil, tears continue to evaporate faster than produced. At the heart of the LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation System is the Activator (eyepiece). The Activator uses patented, precisely controlled heat applied to the inner eyelid with adaptive pressure encouraging your body to restart the natural production of lipids (oils) needed for healthy tears. Its single-use design and built-in sensors ensure a safe, sterile treatment.