Dry Eye Center of Excellence
DRY EYE IS A DISEASE
Dry eye is a multifactorial disease of the tears and ocular surface that results in symptoms of discomfort, visual disturbance, and tear film instability with potential damage to the ocular surface. It is accompanied by increased osmolarity of the tear film and inflammation of the ocular surface.
Dry eye is one of the most under-diagnosed ocular diseases, and yet it is the most common reason why patients go see their eye care professional.
There is an estimated 55 million Americans with dry eye disease.
DRY EYE TREATMENT
Dry eyes are very common in our climate; when it comes to treating dry eye disease we like to do it in a step-wise fashion. We start treatment with things that are simple, easy and quick to implement in your daily routine. The initial steps include:
- Avoiding exposure to wind and the elements, as well as forced air situations (i.e. ceiling fans, air vents). Sometimes these situations are unavoidable, but doing the best you can to protect your eyes will greatly reduce your symptoms. There are even special sunglasses made to block exposure. These are available in our optical department.
- Remember to blink! When we do activities like reading, computer work or watching television we tend to stare and not blink enough. Try to be conscious of this and blink often.
- Lubricate your eyes regularly! Use artificial tears at least 4 times a day (more if you’re noticing symptoms or are experiencing increased exposure to air movement). Some brands that our patients have had success with are; Systane, Refresh, Blink, Genteal, Freshkote, and TheraTears. Each brand has multiple products designed to treat varying levels of dryness. Your doctor will guide you as to which product is most appropriate for you.
- Supplement with Omega 3’s orally. You need 1000mg from a fish derived source (fish, krill or salmon oil) and 1000mg from a vegetable derived source (flax seed, evening primrose or borage oil). We suggest you alternate your use of these, taking one in the morning and the other in the evening for maximum benefit. High quality fish oils are very important for proper absorption. Some recommended brands are; PRN (sold here), Nordic Naturals or Core Omega.
- In cold weather times, use of a humidifier in your home can be of benefit.
Some additional therapies may be necessary for patients with more severe dryness. If the treatment outlined above fails to improve your symptoms enough, your doctor may suggest additional therapy; such as:
- Restasis and Xiidra are prescription eye drops used to help you create more of your own natural tears and decrease signs and symptoms of dryness.
- MiBo ThermaFlo is a treatment designed to heat the oil glands lining your eyelids, causing them to secrete the oils that aid in the makeup of a healthy tear film.
- Punctal plugs may be necessary to help you retain moisture in your eyes by plugging some or all of your puncta (tear drains).
- Punctal cautery may be utilized in more severe cases if punctal plugs have been shown to benefit you.
- Tear alternatives, ointments and amniotic membranes that can be used in the treatment of severe dry eyes.
Your doctor will personalize your treatment based on your specific needs and symptoms. It is important that you follow your treatment plan to experience relief and remain symptom free.
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