Dry eye is a condition in which a person doesn't have enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. Approximately 150,000 Cincinnati area residents have moderate to severe dry eye disease.
Dry eye symptoms can range from mild irritation to chronic issues that interfere with day-to-day life. Symptoms, which vary and may occur in one or both eyes, include:
Irritated or red eyes
Excessive tearing, watery eyes and/or blurry vision
Sore or sensitive eyes
Itchiness and/or Burning
A gritty or pasty feeling in the eyelids
Crusty or goopy eyes
Below are some of the common treatments for dry eye. Dry eye can have several different root causes. At Madeira Optical you receive a complete dry eye diagnostic and consultation before any plan is recommended, Please ask your doctor about the appropriateness and side effects of any potential treatment.
To learn more about the state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment equipment in our office, please visit our Advanced Technology page.
To learn more about addressing dry eye problems, please call or schedule online today. We evaluate your eyes and recommend a treatment plan based on your specific needs and concerns.
With the information obtained from testing, a doctor of optometry can determine if you have dry eyes and advise you on treatment options.
Age: Dry eye syndrome is more common at older ages, particularly for women after menopause.
Medical Conditions: People with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, thyroid problems,, or lupus may be more susceptible to dry eyes.
Eye Conditions: Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, which is a disorder of oil glands in eyelids, or Blepharitis can be the underlying cause of dry eye disease.
Medications: Certain anti-anxiety medications, incontinence medications, chemotherapy medications, diuretics, beta-blockers, allergy and cold medicines, sleeping pills, and heartburn medicine may cause dry eyes.
Environment: A dry, windy environment or being near smoke can induce dry eyes.
Lifestyle: Smoking, long-term contact lens use and spending several hours each day looking at a computer screen can cause dry eye symptoms.
Other factors: Refractive eye surgeries, such as LASIK, can decrease tear production and contribute to dry eyes.
Dry eyes can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination, including the OCULUS Keratograph 5M. The OCULUS Keratograph 5M is an advanced corneal topographer with a built-in real keratometer and a color camera optimized for external imaging. Unique features include examining the meibomian glands, non-invasive tear film break-up time and the tear meniscus height measurement and evaluating the lipid layer. Testing with emphasis on the evaluation of the quantity and quality of tears produced by the eyes may include:
Patient history to determine the patient's symptoms and to note any general health problems, medications or environmental factors that may be contributing to the dry eye problem.
External examination of the eye, including lid structure and blink dynamics.
Evaluation of the eyelids and cornea using bright light and magnification.
Measurement of the quantity and quality of tears for any abnormalities. Special dyes may be put in the eyes to better observe tear flow and to highlight any changes to the outer surface of the eye caused by insufficient tears.
Treatments for dry eye syndrome attempt to restore or maintain the normal amount of tears in the eye to minimize dryness and related discomfort and to maintain eye health. Dry eyes can be a chronic condition, but a doctor of optometry can prescribe treatment to keep your eyes healthy and comfortable and to prevent your vision from being affected. The primary modalities used to manage and treat dry eyes include adding tears using over-the-counter artificial tear solutions, conserving tears, increasing tear production, and treating the inflammation of the eyelids or eye surface that contributes to the dry eyes.
Adding tears: Mild cases of dry eyes can often be managed using over-the-counter artificial tear solutions. These can be used as often as needed to supplement natural tear production. Preservative-free artificial tear solutions are recommended because they contain fewer additives, which can further irritate the eyes. People with more severe dry eyes that don't respond to artificial tears alone will need to take additional steps to treat their dry eyes.
Conserving tears: Keeping natural tears in the eyes longer can reduce the symptoms of dry eyes. This can be done by blocking the tear ducts through which the tears normally drain. The tear ducts can be blocked with tiny silicone or gel-like plugs that can be removed if needed. Or a surgical procedure can permanently close the tear ducts. In either case, the goal is to keep the available tears in the eye longer to reduce problems related to dry eyes.
Increasing tear production: A doctor of optometry can prescribe eye drops that increase tear production. Taking an omega-3 fatty acid nutritional supplement may also help.
Treating the contributing eyelid or ocular surface inflammation: A doctor of optometry might recommend prescription eye drops or ointments, warm compresses and lid massage, or eyelid cleaners to help decrease inflammation around the surface of the eyes.
A comprehensive in-person exam is the first step for appropriately diagnosis and treatment of chronic dry eye disease.
Dry eyes can occur when tear production and drainage are not in balance. People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears or their tears are of a poor quality:
Inadequate amount of tears: Tears are produced by several glands in and around the eyelids. Tear production tends to diminish with age, with various medical conditions or as a side effect of certain medicines. Environmental conditions, such as wind and dry climates, can also decrease tear volume due to increased tear evaporation. When the normal amount of tear production decreases or tears evaporate too quickly from the eyes, symptoms of dry eye can develop.
Poor quality of tears: Tears are made up of three layers: oil, water, and mucus. Each component protects and nourishes the front surface of the eye. A smooth oil layer helps prevent evaporation of the water layer, while the mucin layer spreads the tears evenly over the surface of the eye. If the tears evaporate too quickly or do not spread evenly over the cornea due to deficiencies with any of the three tear layers, dry eye symptoms can develop.
You can take the following steps to reduce symptoms of dry eyes. Severe dry eye diagnosis may require additional treatments.
Remember to blink regularly when reading or staring at a computer screen for long periods of time.
Increase the humidity in the air at work and at home, particularly in Cincinnati winters.
Wear sunglasses outdoors, particularly those with wraparound frames, to reduce exposure to drying winds and the sun, particularly on windy early spring days. In Cincinnati, spring and winter winds are always nearby.
Nutritional supplements containing essential fatty acids may help decrease dry eye symptoms in some people. Ask your doctor if taking dietary supplements could help your dry eye problems.
Avoiding becoming dehydrated by drinking plenty of water (8 to 10 glasses) each day.
Avoid air getting blown in your eyes by directing car heaters away from your face.
Avoid environments that are drier than normal, such as deserts, airplanes, and places at high altitudes.