When it comes to treating your specific dry eye condition, it is important to conduct a comprehensive eye exam of the lids, cornea, conjuctiva and tear film. Once a diagnosis of dry eye is made, your eye care practitioner will likely recommend one or more of the following six dry eye therapies:
- Artificial Tears (or Eyedrops)
- Eyelid Hygiene
- Ocular Vitamins
- Immunologic Therapy
- Punctal Plugs
- Heat and Light Eyelid Treatment
Let’s discuss these reatments in some depth so you can gain a deeper understanding of the possible remedies your optometrist may prescribe.
Artificial Tears (Eye Drops)
Artificial tears are available over-the-counter (OTC) or as a prescription medication. They are used to lubricate, heal and maintain moisture around the eyes. With lubricating eye drops, there are many different options and brands to choose from. Most come with moisturizing ingredients such as humectants, lubricants and oils. Electrolytes are needed to stabilize the tear film, while preservatives keep the solution from becoming contaminated. It is important to note that, although the goal of providing relief to dry eyes is the same, not all eye drops provide the same quality of symptomatic relief and support to the ocular tissues and health as others. Your eye care professional should recommend certain formulations which are best suited suited for your specific type of dry eye.
Many people take the function of their eyelids for granted. They have an important role in protecting the eyes from dirt and trauma, but also for keeping the eye’s surface moist. If there is debris from your eyelashes or along the outer edge of your eyes, it can impede the meibomian glands’ ability to produce the lipid layer necessary to keep your tears from evaporating and weeping. This is why it is crucial to keep your eyelids clean with eyelid wipes, or to undergo several heat/light therapies with your optometrist to stimulate your meibomian glands to producing meibum at sufficient levels.
Heat and Light Eyelid Treatment
As touched on above, heat and light therapies are gaining prominence and to reducing the dry eye condition. When physical blockage or simply aging prevents the meibomian gland from producing the needed oils to keep your eyes moist, the result is dry eyes. As a result, there are many devices on the market today that are designed to use heat and light to alleviate these blockage and stimulate meibum production. Purchasing an at-home heat compress or receiving in-person treatment from your optometrist may be indicated.
Depending on the root cause of your dry eye condition, your eye care professional may recommend you take vitamins. One such cause is if you are found to be suffering from meibomian gland dysfunction. This is a condition where your meibomian gland becomes inflamed or functioning at a suboptimal level from the increased viscosity in the meibum it produces. This can lead to an inflamed and irritated, dry eye. This condition is caused by an imbalance in healthy fats, Omega-3s and Omega-6s. To remedy this issue, your optometrist may advise you to take ocular vitamins rich EPA and DHA omega fatty acids. Our North American diets see to it that we have enough Omega-6, but we are often lacking in Omega-3. Some Omega-3 daily supplements can provide the nutrional equivalent of eating 27 cans of tuna, without the potential risks of ingesting Mercury.
Inflammation plays a critical role in the development and irritation of dry eye conditions. In severe cases, it is important to focus on easing the inflammatory response in the eyes in order to fully alleviate the condition for good. These drugs reduce the body’s natural immune response, which can in turn decrease the inflammation in your dry eyes. This, combined with the drug’s ability to increase tear production, can bring an end to your dry eye condition. Keep in mind that because these drugs affect your body’s immune-response abilities, they are only offered as a prescription through a licensed practitioner.
Another dry eye remedy your optometrist may recommend are punctal plugs. Punctal plugs are tiny devices that are painlessy inserted into your tear duct to impede tear drainage. By blocking your tear ducts, the tears persist longer on the surface of the eye. Punctal plugs come in different sizes, shapes and both temporary (dissolvable) or permanent options.
To learn more about dry eye disease and its treatment, visit www.dryeyetherapy.ca