Dry eyes are a condition characterized by discomfort of the ocular surface due to tear film abnormalities. There are many factors that can contribute to dry eye syndrome such as extended amounts of screen time, poor hydration, side effects from systemic medication usage, as well as certain systemic conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and thyroid disease. Environmental causes such as continual exposure to air conditioners, ceiling fans, or heaters may also dry out your tear film.
Symptoms of Dry Eye Include:
- Foreign body sensation
- Watery eyes
- Inconsistent vision
How Can Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome be Treated?
Let your doctor know if dry eye symptoms are impacting your life. Fortunately, several treatment options are available for this condition, including:
- Artificial Tears
Your optometrist may advise the use of artificial tears to help lubricate your eyes. Using eye drops is a simple and painless process intended to help replace your natural tears. There are several brands and types of artificial tears available, so your doctor will make a recommendation based on your individual needs.
- Punctal Plugs
Another treatment option is to block the opening to the tear ducts so that your body’s natural tears remain on your eyes longer. This can be accomplished through the use of tiny silicone plugs that are inserted into the tear duct opening. Punctal plugs are designed to be comfortable and to help manage your dry eye symptoms without having to rely on multiple eye drops throughout the day. Your optometrist will evaluate whether this would be a good option for you by thoroughly evaluating the surface of your eyes. Plugs can also be easily removed at any time if the need arises.
- Increasing Tear Production
Your eye doctor may also suggest the use of a specific eye drop medication that helps to increase the production of tears. There are several prescription drops available that can be used to help manage and treat your dry eye symptoms if artificial tears alone are not sufficient.
- Nutritional Supplements
Nutritional supplements, such as those containing omega-3 fatty acids, have been shown to help reduce some symptoms of dry eye syndrome. Incorporating nutritional supplements into your diet may also be part of your eye doctor’s treatment plan.
- Lid Hygiene
Over time the oil producing glands in the eyelids can become congested which leads to a lack of tear production. The eyelashes can also start to accumulate mucous oftentimes first thing in the morning upon awakening. If this is happening to you, your doctor may suggest you perform daily warm compresses with a specially designed heat mask as well as clean the eyelashes daily with an approved eyelid cleanser.
If you or a loved one are suffering from any of the signs and symptoms of dry eye, contact our office and our friendly staff can get you scheduled for an exam to start you on the path to healthier, more comfortable eyes.