Dry Eye is typically a chronic condition that is characterized by your eyes feeling scratchy or burning. They may also tear excessively, and you may experience redness and blurred or fluctuating vision. Many people mistake these problems for allergies or other conditions.
Dry eye can be due to a variety of factors:
- Computers, cell phones and digital devices – When using these, your blink rate slows and you typically do not blink as completely as you should. This alteration of the normal blink in turn causes damage to the glands that produce one of the three layers of your tear film
- Age – Our eyes over time produce fewer tears to bathe and moisturize the surface of the eye
- Medications – Many medicines reduce your natural tear production, such as some heart and blood pressure medicines, anti-histamines, antidepressants, and glaucoma drops to name just a few.
- Environment – windy conditions cause the tear layer to evaporate more rapidly.
- Systemic medical conditions – if you have autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or sarcoidosis, along with many other medical conditions, the process that cause that condition also affect your tear production.
If chronic, severe dry eye isn’t treated, you can have permanent damage to your cornea and suffer vision loss as a result.
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A Southern Eye doctor can check for dry eye as part of a comprehensive eye exam which may include special dry eye evaluation tests. The treatment for dry eye depends on a variety of factors and the severity of your symptoms. Common treatments include the following:
Artificial tear eyedrops are similar to your own tears and are used to lubricate your eyes and maintain moisture. There are many brands and types available, and a prescription is not required. Our doctors can recommend the best artificial tears for you depending on our assessment of your dry eye condition. If your dry eye is more serious, your eye doctor may give you a prescription for medicines such as cyclosporine (Restasis) or lifitegrast (Xiidra). These eyedrops can help your eyes make more tears
Tear Duct or Punctal Plugs
Your doctor may recommend punctal plugs to help conserve your tears. Punctal plugs are inserted into the tear duct (small holes in the inner corners of your eyes) to act as a dam for your eye’s drainage system. This method conserves your own tears and makes artificial tears last longer.
Diet & Warm Compresses
Our doctors may recommend supplementing your diet with vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids, which are found naturally in foods like oily fish or can be taken as a supplement. Warm compresses can also reduce dry eye symptoms. Southern Eye can provide special supplements, eye compresses and other treatments for dry eye.
Lipiflow & Scleral Contacts
Your doctor may recommend a procedure known as LipiFlow thermal pulsation to clear blocked oil glands. The technique involves using a device that applies heat to your eyelids. The treatment takes a few minutes and is often repeated periodically. In some instances, your doctor may suggest wearing scleral or bandage contact lenses. These special contacts are designed to protect the surface of your eye and prevent moisture from escaping.