Dry eye is a common condition that occurs when the eyes are insufficiently moisturized, leading to itching, redness and pain from dry spots on the surface of the eye. The eyes may become dry and irritated because the tear ducts don't produce enough tears, or because of a chemical imbalance in the tears.
Patients with this condition often experience irritating symptoms and which may result in more serious damage to the vision if the condition is left untreated. It is important for patients with this condition to take special care of their eyes in order to alleviate symptoms and prevent complications. Your doctor can diagnose dry eye after a thorough evaluation of your eyes and tear production with a Schirmer tear test.
Treatment of Dry Eye
Treatment for dry eye depends on the cause and severity of the condition, as well as the patient's overall health and personal preference. Non-surgical treatments are often effective, and may include the following:
- Blinking on purpose
- Increasing humidity levels at home or work
- Use artificial tears or a moisturizing ointment
- Stop smoking or exposure to second-hand smoke
- Avoiding air conditioning or windy conditions outdoors
- Stop the use of allergy and cold medicines
- Adding omega-3 fatty acids to the diet as food or supplements
If non-surgical methods are unsuccessful, surgical treatments may be an option. Treatment options may include:
- Small punctal plugs may be inserted in the corners of the eyes to limit tear drainage
- Punctal cautery, a procedure to permanently close the drainage holes may be another option
- Eyelid surgery is also a solution if an eyelid condition is causing your dry eyes
- IPL, or intense pulsed light therapy to treat the abnormal blood vessels that are resulting in a malfunction of the meibomian glands in the eyelids, which are a primary cause of dry eyes. As the blood vessels shrink, the glands resume normal function once again and the dry eyes are resolved.
Treating the underlying cause of dry eyes can also help relieve the symptoms of this condition.