Dry eye disease i s a common condition where the tears i n your eyes are not capable of providing moisture or sufficient lubrication to the eyes. Millions of people i n the United States suffer from i t but what causes i t? There are a number of factors that can cause dry eyes.
Causes may include the following:
- Aging process
- Side effects of medications (antihistamines, antidepressants, diuretics)
- Medical conditions (thyroid conditions, diabetes,
- Sjogren’s syndrome, immune system disorder, etc.)
- Environmental factors (exposure to smoke, dust)
- Extended contact lenses wear
- Eye surgery
- Inflammation of the eyelids
- Looking at electronic devices for a long period without blinking
WHAT IS THE TEAR FILM?
The tear film may play an important role when i t comes to dry eyes. The tear film coats the surface of the eyes to provide moisture and comfort. A stable tear film also protects the eyes, reduces risk of infection, washes away foreign particles, and keeps your eye surface smooth and clear. There are 3 l ayers i n the tear film: oil, aqueous/water and mucous. The tear film helps replenish the surface of the eyes and i s coated after every blink. If our tear production slows down, i t can decrease the tear quantity i n the eyes. Other glands that produce oil can also cause less qualitative tears.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF DRY EYES?
You may experience one or any combination of the following symptoms:
- Decrease in vision
- Mucous secretion in the eyes
- Sensitivity to bright lights
There are variety of treatments for dry eyes depending on the root cause. A different treatment may be needed if it is caused by an underlying condition. It also depends on the severity of the symptoms one may be experiencing. Treatments/products that may relieve dry eyes are the following:
- Over-the-counter eye drops/artificial tears (Systane, Refresh, etc)
- Prescription eye drops (Restasis, Xiidra)
- Warm compresses/Bruder mask
- Eyelid scrubs (OcuSoft, Cliradex)
- Omega-3 fish oils
- Eyelid cleaning with baby shampoo
In-clinic treatments that we provide for our patients
- Punctal plugs
- A silicone or collagen plug is placed where your tears drain to help conserve your own tears.
- Blepharo Exfoliation
- his procedure uses a tool with a micro-sponge that spins along the edge of your eyelids, exfoliating the eyelids. This helps reduce bacterial debris and biofilm formation. It is painless and takes 15-20 minutes.
Out-clinic treatments we can refer
- Intense Pulse Light (IPL)
- A light therapy that is designed to warm the skin and close any abnormal blood vessels around the eyelids. It also acts asa warm compress to help clear any glands that secrete oil. This is typically done per month for approximately 3-5 months and maintenance treatments are given every 3-12 months following. All patients will likely need maintenance therapy at least once a year.
- A procedure where a device is used to simultaneously heat and massage the eyelids in order to express meibomian glands (Glands that secrete oil layer in tear film) The treatment lasts about 12 minutes and you will feel a warm pressure sensation as the device assists in unclogging the glands.
If you have additional questions in regards to dry eyes or treatments, feel free to give us a call and/or make an appointment.
Author: Dr. Ia Ong Her.