Dry eye syndrome is one of the most common eye conditions in the United States today. Millions of Americans are affected every year. The symptoms of dry eye syndrome can range from mild to severe, and patients find symptoms to be very frustrating at times. Here at Georgia Eye Associates, we are proud to offer multiple dry eye symptom treatment options.
Dry eye syndrome is caused by malfunctioning tear glands. This can mean that you are simply not creating enough tears to lubricate the eye, or that the tears are lacking one of their three components.
The tear film is made up of three layers:
- Oil (lipid) layer: the outer layer of the tear film that seals the tear film to help reduce tear evaporation
- Water (aqueous) layer: lubricates the eye, washes away particles and prevents infection
- Mucin layer: the innermost layer that helps the water layer to spread evenly over the eye
The most common form is called an evaporative dry eye. Evaporative dry eye occurs when the glands that are responsible for creating the lipid layer of the tear film are not working properly. The lack of a lipid layer causes the middle aqueous layer to evaporate quickly and not spread as evenly over the eye. When this happens, you will begin to experience the frustrating symptoms of dry eye syndrome.
One of the most common symptoms of dry eye syndrome is watery eyes. While this may seem odd, this is your eye producing more of the water layer as a protective measure against the dryness. Unfortunately, this does not help to solve the issue.
Other common symptoms of dry eye syndrome:
- Persistent dry feeling
- Red eyes
- Burning sensation
- Foreign body sensation
If you are experiencing these symptoms, your doctor will test you for dry eye syndrome. A thin strip of filter paper will be placed under the lower eyelid to measure tear production. This is called a Schirmer test. Your doctor will conduct further testing to confirm that there is a deficiency in the tear film. After confirming that you have dry eye syndrome, and the type of dry eye syndrome that you have, your doctor will be able to determine the best treatment for you.
There are many options for dry eye treatment, such as:
- Lubricating drops: Dry eye drops can be effective in the short term. These artificial tears can be used to alleviate symptoms temporarily, and can be found over the counter.
- BlephEx®: BlephEx® is a treatment that addresses a different condition, blepharitis. Blepharitis is a common inflammatory disease of the eyelids that contributes to dry eye syndrome. This treatment cleans the eyelids and will almost immediately improve symptoms by unblocking glands on the eyelid margin. Click here to learn more about BlephEx®.
- Dry eye vitamins: Certain vitamins have been shown to significantly help those suffering from dry eye. These vitamins need to be used consistently to be effective.
- Punctal plugs: Punctal plugs are similar to the stopper in a sink. They are placed in the tear duct to prevent tears being lost. This is a more long-term treatment which helps the eye to self-lubricate.
- RESTASIS®: Helps increase your eyes’ natural ability to produce tears, which may be reduced by inflammation due to Chronic Dry Eye.
- Xiidra®: Xiidra improves patient-reported symptoms of eye dryness and signs of inferior corneal staining in clinical trials.
Your doctor will be able to determine which treatment is best for your individual eyes. If you have been experiencing dry eye symptoms and you’re ready to do something about them, give us a call today!