Dry eye is one of the most common problems we see in our clinics, and it remains highly under-diagnosed. Studies show that dry eye affects 15% or more of the US population and likely there are many more people that go without diagnosis and treatment.
Common Symptoms of Dry Eye:
- Burning or stinging of the eyes
- Excessive watering or tearing
- Intermittent blurring of vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Foreign body sensation, or feeling like there is something in the eyes
- Mucous discharge
Common Causes of Dry Eye:
- Some medications, such as anti-depressants, anti-histamines, and many others
- Hormonal changes, especially after menopause
- Dry or windy conditions, like those with air-conditioning, smoking, etc
- Disease such as Parkinson’s, Sjogren’s, and others
- History of previous eye surgery, including LASIK
- Reading or watching television for prolonged periods of time
What treatments are available for my dry eye?
The most common initial treatment for dry eye is the use of over the counter lubricating or “artificial” tears. These come in several forms including liquid, gel, preservative-free, and a nighttime ointment formulation. Artificial tears can generally be used from one to several times per day. These work by supplementing your eye’s natural tear film to alleviate the symptoms of dry eye. For many people, artificial tears are the only needed treatment for dry eye.
For eyes that are not responsive to artificial tears alone, your doctor can discuss other options that are available. These include prescription medications for dry eye, which work to help boost your natural tear production over time. When infection or inflammation of the eyelids and oil glands is contributing, special lid cleaning techniques and antibiotics may be prescribed. For some patients, we can perform an in-office procedure to temporarily or permanently close the “punctum” of the eyelid, which is the small hole where tears naturally drain. By doing this, we enable your eyes to make better and longer use of the tears that are produced.
Your doctor will assess which combination of factors is causing your problem and recommend treatment based on this.