For those who have never experienced chronic dry eye, it’s difficult to understand how uncomfortable the condition can be. Dryness can cause a myriad of symptoms such as redness, itchiness, grittiness, blurry vision, and watery eyes. Alongside the discomfort, people constantly have to explain to coworkers and family why they appear to be crying when dryness is the culprit for the tears.
This may seem counter-intuitive that dry eye causes tears to run down the cheeks, but it’s actually a reflex of the eye called “reflex tearing.” These reflex tears are made quickly by the tear glands in a last-ditch effort to keep the surface of the eye from drying out completely and preventing damage to the front of the eye. This type of tear lacks the normal oil component and is made of mainly salt and water. The high salt content is the reason tears running down the cheeks causes puffy eyelids.
There are several treatment methods for dry eye depending on severity and type. The two type of dryness are tear deficient and evaporative. The only way to diagnose which type is causing dryness is testing with a dry eye specialist. The TearLab instrument is used by many specialists to assess the severity of dryness and track improvement throughout treatment.
Tear deficient dryness
Tear deficient dryness is caused by the tear glands not producing enough liquid or water. Hydration is critical in this type of dryness. If the body does not have enough extra water to spare, the tear glands will turn off. Many medications will also slow down the tear glands and result in dryness. Hormone fluctuations caused by birth control and menopause also have strong impacts on the tear glands which is why women suffer from dryness more often than men.
In order to treat this tear deficiency, more tears must be added. The prescription eye drops Restasis and Xiidra (just released in 2016) are powerful medications that result in more natural tears. In some cases, these medications alone are not enough to solve the problem alone and further treatment is required.
Scleral contact lenses are great for treating this type of dryness and also offer the benefit of clear vision without glasses.
Evaporative Dry Eye
The majority of dry eye falls into the category of evaporative dry eye. This type of dryness usually requires a more involved treatment than just using eye drops. The treatment targets the oil glands of the eyes called Meibomian glands, making them work better and more efficiently. If the Meibomian glands are not functioning properly by secreting oil over the surface of the eye, the watery tears will evaporate quickly causing dryness. The treatment plan is determined by the optometrist and will usually consist of a combination of the following:
- Fish oil supplements
- Warm compresses
- Lid scrubs
- Regenerative biologic eye drops (New)
- In-office dry eye therapy sessions – MiBoFlo ThermoFlo (New)
Dry eye cannot be resolved instantly and may require months to completely change the physiology of the tear glands themselves. Once treatment begins, most dry eye patients do experience great relief within the first few weeks.
Schedule a Dry Eye Consultation with one of our specialists today and experience the relief! Call us at (734) 525-8170 or http://Suburbaneyecare.com