Dry Eye Treatment
Dry eye syndrome is a chronic and typically progressive condition. At times this condition is incurable owing to its cause and severity. Typically though dry eye management is easy and provides patient with improved eye comfort. There are a variety of ways to manage the dry depending on the main causal agent.
Artificial Tears: these provide lubrication to a dry eye and are of two types. The tears which are light having low viscosity provide immediate relief and may require frequent use. Alternatively high viscosity provide longer duration relief and may require less frequent application though there may be blurring of vision for a few immediate minutes post application.
Restasis: this is a very popular eye drop which has a constituent other than lubricant that helps in reduction of dry eye associated inflammation. This also helps the eye to produce increased natural tears. Prolonged use of this agent lead to therapeutic effects.
Steroid Eye Drops: these correct the inflammation, which is a short term method for quick relief from symptoms. These can be used in combination with artificial tears and also restasis which are long term treatment methodologies.
Lacrisert: is a solid, sterile insert with a slow release preservative free lubricant – hydroxypropyl cellulose. It is put under the lower eye, here the lubricant liquefies slowly, providing the dry eye moisture.
Punctal Plugs: these are sterile and small devices which are used in dry eye treatment. Also called the lacrimal plug, it is inserted into the small openings of lower tear duct to keep the eye moisture from evaporating soon.
Meibomian Gland Expression: there are meibomian glands on the eyelid margins which secrete meibum (oil). These glands have openings on eyelashes, which when clogged cannot secrete oil which keeps the tear film from evaporation. If these malfunction, it is called meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) and causes evaporative dry eye. It is corrected by meibomian gland expression, performed by eye doctor.
Warm Compresses: opening of clogged meibomian glands is essential to dry eye management. This can be achieved by applying warm compress. When warm compress is applied to closed eyelids, the hardened meibum is softened.
Intense Pulsed Light: this treatment helps remedy eyelid infections, which lead to dry eyes. This IPL therapy has shown patients withdrawing from artificial tear drops to control symptoms of dry eyes. With 4 – 6 intense pulsed light once a month, the dependence of frequent eye drops is reduced.
As a part of holistic treatment, eye doctors also recommend nutritional and dietary supplements like cold water fish which have omega 3 fatty acids – responsible for helping dry eye syndrome. Vegetarians can opt for flaxseed oil. It is also advisable to drink lot of water, especially during hot and humid climates.
Home care for dry eyes:
The doctor may advise several things which can be done at home to help the dry eye management:
– Blinking more frequently for people who use computers or smart phones extensively.
– Gentle squeezing of eyelids to wash the eyes with tears
– Frequent breaks from computer use
– Thorough removal of eye make up
– Gently cleaning the eyelids at bedtime
– Putting on quality sunglasses to block the harmful UV rays of the sun.
Other factors affecting dry eyes:
Many medications can worsen or cause eye dry syndrome. It is important that the patient discusses his/her ongoing medications which might be causing the dry eye. Managing the doses of these medications may help in dry eye.
Also treatment of other eyelid conditions like blepharitis, may also augment the dry eye condition. Contact lens may also cause dry eye or alternatively dry eye may cause discomfort while wearing contacts. Contact lens use should be discontinued while taking dry eye treatment.