When dry eyes persist and cause problems with vision or comfort, you may have Dry Eye Syndrome, which is diagnosed by your eye care physician. Dry Eye Syndrome is a chronic and progressive disorder without a cure…but it can be successfully managed and controlled.
Dry eyes are especially common in our Southwest climate. The lack of humidity, air conditioning, and indoor heating during the winter can dry out your tear film. Tears are a mix of water, oils for lubrication, mucus for even spreading, and antibodies and special proteins to prevent infections. These ingredients come from glands around your eyes.
The key to controlling the symptoms – stinging, blurry and gritty red eyes – is finding the cause. There are many treatments commonly used by patients and eye doctors alike that don’t address the root condition and consequently, don’t provide long-lasting results. If you’ve ever suffered from significant eye dryness, you know that common artificial tears don’t help very long.
There are two well-recognized types of dry eyes, one associated with an oil deficiency in the tears and the other related to the production of the watery, or aqueous part. Oil deficiency is seen more often in people of northern European heritage, while tear production problems are often more common with auto-immune disease and in persons on certain medications. Treating the wrong deficiency will not improve the condition.
Specific tests and instruments help eye doctors discover the particular cause of the problem.
Various treatments include Omega-3 dietary supplements, specific formulations of lubricating drops or gels, hot mask or moist heat compress use, eyelid massage, and cleansing and prescription medications. Placing microscopic plugs in the tear drainage tubes in the lids can reduce tear flow away from the eyes, keeping them moist.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy is another treatment option that is effective and long lasting – without the need for supportive home therapy. Used for decades by dermatologists in facial rejuvenation, IPL is now being repurposed by eye doctors for the treatment of moderate to severe dry eyes that are unresponsive to traditional therapies.
Changing one’s environment and work habits can also help considerably. Taking a break from reading and computer work really makes a difference. The 20/20/20 rule is a good thing to remember when working at the computer: every 20 minutes, look up at things 20 ft or more away and blink forcefully for 20 seconds or so to rehydrate the eye surface. Our rate of blinking is reduced by nearly 50% when reading, which lowers tear volume.
Use a humidifier in the home and office. Keep fans pointed away from your direction to reduce evaporation of the tears.
Most important, seek out an eye doctor who makes dry eyes a big part of their practice and has invested in both the education and instrumentation to make a difference.
At Accent Vision’s Dry Eye Center for Excellence, we use advanced technology to examine your eyes and computerized tear analysis to diagnose and monitor Dry Eye Syndrome. Contact us today to find out more and find relief from your symptoms!