What is dry eye?
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 of many different reasons such as your tear ducts not producing enough tears, corneal exposure, or rapid evaporation of tears. At your initial consultation, Dr. Jean Keamy will evaluate your eyes and assess the proper cause of your dry eyes. She will then follow up with individualized treatment plan to help alleviate your discomfort.
What causes dry eye?
Many people usually start to experience dry-eye symptoms as they age. Dry Eye can also result from medical conditions, injuries or certain medications. Dry eyes tend to affect women more than men because of the hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy and menopause. Oral contraceptives can also affect the consistency of tears. Other causes of dry eye include the following:
- Antihistamines, decongestants and blood-pressure medications
- Rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Sj®gren’s syndrome and thyroid disease
- Environmental conditions such as smoke, wind or excessive sun
- Long-term contact lens use
- Eye injury
- Eye or eyelid surgery
- Inflammation of the eye (conjunctivitis or keratitis)
Dry Eye Symptoms
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. Common symptoms include:
- Eye discomfort
- Feeling of something in eye
- Itchy eyes
- Blurred vision
- Crusty Eyelids
It is important for patients with this condition to take special care of their eyes in order to alleviate symptoms and prevent complications. Dr. Keamy will diagnose dry eye after a thorough evaluation of your eyes and tear production with a Schirmer tear test.
Types of Dry Eyes
There are two types of dry eyes. One type can be due to pore reduction of the watering component. With the decreased secretion of tears or aqueous solution to coat to the eye, patients often feel they are always dry, causing a great deal of discomfort.The other type of dry eye can be described as evaporative dry eye. Approximately 86% of patients with dry eyes suffer from this specific type. The oil glands located along the eyelid are clogged, causing evaporative eyes. The oils secreted from the Meiobomian Gland form a protective layer to prevent the tears from evaporating. With the decrease in the oil layer, the aqueous layer experiences rapid evaporation, causing dry eyes.
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Dry Eye Treatments Options
Dry eye can make normal activities such as driving, watching television, reading or using a computer very uncomfortable. If left untreated, dry eye may cause sufferers to be unable to wear contact lenses and can lead to eye surface damage and vision problems over time.
At Keamy Eye & Laser Centre, we are able to provide many different treatment option to help alleviate dry eye symptoms. Our treatment options include the following:
LipiFlow thermal pulsation treatment is a new advanced form of therapy for the relief of dry eye. It was designed to treat evaporative dry eye, which is the most common form of the condition. Evaporative dry eye develops when there are blockages in the meibomian glands of the eyelids, which are responsible for the production of the lipids that help protect the eye. When production of the lipid layer decreases, the eyes will not be lubricated sufficiently and tears evaporate too rapidly to benefit the eye. LipiFlow is the only treatment that focuses on the cause of dry eye and provides sustained relief by improving the function of the eyelid glands.
There are many dry eye patients that suffer from blepharitis. This chronic inflammation is due to an overgrowth of normal bacteria living along the eyelid and the base of the eyelashes. This overgrowth causes crusting along the eyelid, or a sticky biofilm that harbors bacterial exotoxins. Throughout time the biofilm has a direct impact on the function of the tear glands, causing dry eyes. BlephyEx is an in office procedure performed to treat blepharitis by eliminating the biofilm and bacterial toxins. By eliminating the biofilm layer, this improves the overall health of the eyelid and allows proper function of the tear glands.
Preventing Dry Eye
There some steps patients can take to prevent the symptoms of dry-eye. Patients are encouraged to make lifestyle changes such as taking breaks during reading to give the eyes a break and using protective eyeglasses on windy days. These steps could you help prevent dye eye.
What happens if dry eye is left untreated?
Without the ability to create tears, you may have an increased risk of:
- Eye infection
- Damage to the surface of your eyes
- Abrasion of the corneal surface
- Corneal ulcer
- Vision problems
Can I Use Artificial Tears for Dry Eye Syndrome?
Artificial tears may be a first-line treatment for mild to moderate dry eye symptoms. You can find a variety of artificial tears at any local pharmacy. However, the best approach to persistent dry eye, even mild, is to talk to Dr. Keamy about available treatments.
Not all eyedrops are the same. Many eye drops contain preservatives to prolong their shelf life. However, suppose you need to apply eye drops several times a day. In that case, the preservatives can irritate your eyes, thus defeating its purpose. Artificial tears made without preservatives may be a better option if you apply the drops numerous times a day.
Depending on the severity of your symptoms, you may benefit from a thicker drop or ointment. This artificial tear requires you to sit briefly while the lubricant thins out; until it does, your vision will be blurry.
When dry eye symptoms are more significantly irritating, it can be tempting to purchase eye drops that "get the red out." However, drops that reduce redness can be aggravating, ultimately worsening your symptoms.
How Can Medicated Drops Help Dry Eye Symptoms?
If your dry eye symptoms are more severe, prescription eye drops may be recommended. There are currently two FDA-approved medications prescribed for dry eye syndrome.
- Restasis is an immunosuppressant that can reduce the inflammation around the tear ducts with continued use. With less inflammation, the tear ducts may work more efficiently.
- Xiidra is an eye drop that also seems to lower inflammation by affecting proteins in the eye.
What are Blood Serum Drops for Dry Eye Syndrome?
Blood serum drops are made from your blood. Your blood is drawn and placed in a centrifuge, a machine that spins at a high velocity and is diluted with saline. The drops contain growth factors, proteins, antioxidants, electrolytes like magnesium, potassium, calcium, and vitamins A and C. The components of blood serum eye drops are nearly identical to your basal ears. Still, they are administered in higher concentrations to repair and support the epithelium of the ocular surface.
What is Tyrvaya Treatment for Dry Eyes?
A nasal spray for dry eyes? It might be ideal! The FDA-approved Tyrvaya administers the active ingredient varenicline into the nostrils twice daily, about every 12 hours. This dry eye treatment seems to work by binding to nicotine acetylcholine receptors, stimulating the nerves that control the tear ducts. These eye drops can increase your natural tear production by stimulating the nerves.
What are Punctal Plugs for Dry Eye Syndrome?
Punctal plugs are generally not considered unless dry eye symptoms are not brought under control by more conservative therapies. This treatment involves a minor office procedure in which Dr. Keamy inserts tiny silicone plugs into the punctal openings in the tear ducts. What this does is prevent your tears from draining too quickly. Punctal plugs may significantly reduce dry eye symptoms on their own or may help improve the effects of artificial tears.
What are Lipiflow and TearCare for Dry Eye Syndrome?
Lipiflow and TearCare are two procedures that in similar ways increase the oil components of the tear film. They each use a device that is inserted or applied to the eyelids to heat the solidified oils in the meibomian glands to 42.5C or higher. After the procedure, the glands are unplugged and the oils are more liquid and able to be released.
Contact Dr. Keamy For Dry Eye Treatment
To learn more dry eye treatments, contact us to schedule a consultation in our Westborough, MA office by calling 508.836.8733. Dr. Keamy looks forward to serving you!