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Dry Eye Treatment

Dry eye syndrome (DES or dry eye) is a chronic lack of sufficient lubrication and moisture on the surface of the eye. Its consequences range from minor irritation to the inability to wear contact lenses and an increased risk of corneal inflammation and eye infections.

Signs and Symptoms of Dry Eye

Persistent dryness, scratchiness and a burning sensation on your eyes are common symptoms of dry eye syndrome. These symptoms alone may be enough for your eye doctor to diagnose dry eye syndrome. Sometimes, he or she may want to measure the amount of tears in your eyes. A thin strip of filter paper placed at the edge of the eye, called a Schirmer test, is one way of measuring this.

Some people with dry eyes also experience a “foreign body sensation” – the feeling that something is in the eye. And it may seem odd, but sometimes dry eye syndrome can cause watery eyes, because the excessive dryness works to overstimulate production of the watery component of your eye’s tears.

What Causes Dry Eyes?

In dry eye syndrome, the tear glands that moisturize the eye don’t produce enough tears, or the tears have a chemical composition that causes them to evaporate too quickly.

Dry eye syndrome has several causes. It occurs:

  • As a part of the natural aging process, especially among women over age 40.
  • As a side effect of many medications, such as antihistamines, antidepressants, certain blood pressure medicines, Parkinson’s medications and birth control pills.
  • Because you live in a dry, dusty or windy climate with low humidity.

If your home or office has air conditioning or a dry heating system, that too can dry out your eyes. Another cause is insufficient blinking, such as when you’re staring at a computer screen all day.

Dry eyes are also associated with certain systemic diseases such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, rosacea or Sjogren’s Syndrome (a triad of dry eyes, dry mouth, and rheumatoid arthritis or lupus).

Long-term contact lens wear, incomplete closure of the eyelids, eyelid disease and a deficiency of the tear-producing glands are other causes.

Dry eye syndrome is more common in women, possibly due to hormone fluctuations. Recent research suggests that smoking, too, can increase your risk of dry eye syndrome. Dry eye has also been associated with incomplete lid closure following blepharoplasty – a popular cosmetic surgery to eliminate droopy eyelids.

Treatment for Dry Eye

Dry eye syndrome is an ongoing condition that treatments may be unable to cure. But the symptoms of dry eye – including dryness, scratchiness and burning – can usually be successfully managed.

Your eyecare practitioner may recommend artificial tears, which are lubricating eye drops that may alleviate the dry, scratchy feeling and foreign body sensation of dry eye. Prescription eye drops for dry eye go one step further: they help increase your tear production. In some cases, your doctor may also prescribe a steroid for more immediate short-term relief.

Another option for dry eye treatment involves a tiny insert filled with a lubricating ingredient. The insert is placed just inside the lower eyelid, where it continuously releases lubrication throughout the day.

If you wear contact lenses, be aware that many artificial tears cannot be used during contact lens wear. You may need to remove your lenses before using the drops. Wait 15 minutes or longer (check the label) before reinserting them. For mild dry eye, contact lens rewetting drops may be sufficient to make your eyes feel better, but the effect is usually only temporary. Switching to another lens brand could also help.

Check the label, but better yet, check with your doctor before buying any over-the-counter eye drops. Your eye doctor will know which formulas are effective and long-lasting and which are not, as well as which eye drops will work with your contact lenses.

To reduce the effects of sun, wind and dust on dry eyes, wear sunglasses when outdoors. Wraparound styles offer the best protection.

Indoors, an air cleaner can filter out dust and other particles from the air, while a humidifier adds moisture to air that’s too dry because of air conditioning or heating.

For more significant cases of dry eye, your eye doctor may recommend punctal plugs. These tiny devices are inserted in ducts in your lids to slow the drainage of tears away from your eyes, thereby keeping your eyes more moist.

If your dry eye is caused by meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), your doctor may recommend warm compresses and suggest an in-office procedure to clear the blocked glands and restore normal function.

Doctors sometimes also recommend special nutritional supplements containing certain essential fatty acids to decrease dry eye symptoms. Drinking more water may also offer some relief.

If medications are the cause of dry eyes, discontinuing the drug generally resolves the problem. But in this case, the benefits of the drug must be weighed against the side effect of dry eyes. Sometimes switching to a different type of medication alleviates the dry eye symptoms while keeping the needed treatment. In any case, never switch or discontinue your medications without consulting with your doctor first.

Treating any underlying eyelid disease, such as blepharitis, helps as well. This may call for antibiotic or steroid drops, plus frequent eyelid scrubs with an antibacterial shampoo.

If you are considering LASIK, be aware that dry eyes may disqualify you for the surgery, at least until your dry eye condition is successfully treated. Dry eyes increase your risk for poor healing after LASIK, so most surgeons will want to treat the dry eyes first, to ensure a good LASIK outcome. This goes for other types of vision correction surgery, as well.

COVID-19 News

 

 

covid header

We are following recommendations from our governing body to postpone routine vision care, and are only opening the office to emergency patients at this time. Patients can reach the office by calling 856-832-4950 or emailing us at vec@sjvillageeyecare.com. We will be returning phone calls and emails in a timely manner.

In the meantime, here are some recommendations to stay healthy while we work through this:

Urgent/Emergency Eye Care:

⁃ Avoid urgent care and the hospitals for eye problems to keep the hospitals more available for COVID-19 care. Call or email our office for emergency eye care needs.

Vision Strain Awareness:

⁃ Children and adults alike are about to spend even more time than usual on their tablets, phones and computers and the risk of eye strain will consequently be much higher. To reduce the risk of eye strain, try to follow the “Rule of Twenty”; when performing prolonged near activities, do the following:

- Maintain a working distance of at least 20 inches (the further you hold things from your face the less focusing effort is required).

- Take a vision break every 20 minutes to look far away (at least 20 feet) for at least 20 seconds.

- For children, the break should be longer.

Social Distancing:

⁃ Help everyone stay safe by social distancing and eliminating unnecessary social interactions. This will make a huge difference in delaying the load on our hospital system so everyone has the best chance of surviving when they become infected with COVID-19

Contact Lens Care:

⁃ Remove your contact lenses nightly. Even if you've been told they are safe to sleep in and you've been doing it with no problems, this is not the time to get an eye infection.

⁃ When you remove your lenses be sure to clean them with designated contact lens cleaning solution, using fresh solution nightly. DO NOT USE WATER!

⁃ Keep your contact lens case clean! If you are having trouble finding cases or contact lens solution to purchase, we have some available at no charge.

⁃ Throw away your lenses on time. Acuvue Oasys lenses are designed to be thrown away every 2 weeks, while other brands such as Air Optix, Biofinity and are monthly disposable lenses. Daily disposable lenses are single use lenses and should be thrown away after every use. If you aren’t sure what your disposal schedule is supposed to be, contact us via email (vec@sjvillageeyecare.com) and we will be happy to help you.

⁃ If you are at risk of running out of contact lenses, our office can order you more and have them shipped directly to your home.

Emergency Glasses:

⁃ If you have the misfortune of breaking your glasses, contact us and we will do our best to get you an emergency pair as soon as possible.

Our office number is (856-832-4950) and our direct email address is vec@sjvillageeyecare.com. We check our messages and email regularly and will respond as soon as possible.

Wishing the best for you and your families and looking forward to working together during this crisis and into the future!