Dry eye is a relatively common but annoying condition. Also known by the medical term, keratoconjunctivitis sicca, dry eyes are actually a set of symptoms related to a dry cornea, meaning the quantity and/or quality of tears do not keep the surface of the eye adequately lubricated. There is a surgical eye procedure for dry eyes, but in most cases, you can deal with the condition through drops and lifestyle changes.
What Are the Symptoms of Dry Eyes?
Dry eyes can feel like something is in your eye. In particular, your eyes may feel gritty and itchy, and you may notice fewer tears than usual. These feelings are usually exacerbated by working on a computer, reading, or wearing contact lenses. Other symptoms can include stinging, burning, or periods of excess tearing following periods of dryness, discharge, pain, and redness.
What Causes Dry Eyes?
Dry eyes occur when basal tear production decreases, tear evaporation increases or tear composition becomes imbalanced. In some cases, simply getting older can lead to dry eyes. In other cases, dry eyes are a side effect of medication or a symptom of an autoimmune disease or condition like Sjögren’s Syndrome, lupus, or rheumatoid arthritis. Seasonal allergies, low humidity, a dry climate, and air pollution can also contribute to dry eyes.
What Is the Best Treatment for Dry Eyes?
The right treatment for dry eyes depends on why your eyes are dry. If you tend to have dry eyes when using a computer or reading, that generally happens because you don’t blink often enough during those activities. When you don’t blink, the outer surface of your eye is more likely to dry out. Taking periodic eye breaks can help combat dry eyes – blinking repeatedly for a few seconds or closing your eyes for a few moments may replenish basal tears and spread them evenly across your cornea.
In dry, indoor spaces, set up a dehumidifier, and to deal with dry outdoor conditions, use wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes from the wind. If you wear contact lenses, you may want to take a break and switch to glasses.
Finally, to keep moisture levels up in your body, make sure to stay hydrated. Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water per day, and consider trying an Omega 3, 6, or 9 supplements as well.
Do Eye Drops Work for Chronic Dry Eye?
Over-the-counter eye drops or artificial tears can help to alleviate the symptoms of dry eyes, but they don’t address the underlying cause or issue. Prescription drops can be a more effective dry eye treatment. Using OTC eye drops can help moisten the eyes and may provide short-term relief, but they cannot help increase natural tear production.
RESTASIS® Ophthalmic Emulsion is a prescription medication that helps your eyes to produce more tears, and it helps you to make the most of your existing tears. Note that if you are using topical steroid drops or tear duct plugs, RESTASIS® may not be the best option for you. People experiencing dry eye symptoms should consult their eye care professional to determine the cause and to discuss the best treatment strategy.
Is There a Surgical Eye Procedure for Dry Eyes?
In rare cases, if you have extremely chronic dry eye, you may be a candidate for surgery. While puntctal plugs may be inserted in your tear ducts to temporarily keep tears from draining from your eye, surgery may be recommended to close drainage ducts permanently.
If you have dry eyes, we can help. At New Vision Eye Center, we offer eye surgeries for a number of conditions as well as general eye care. We serve patients in the Vero Beach, FL area and beyond. Contact us today to set up an appointment or call us at 772-257-8700.