Dry Eye Treatment

Dry Eye Syndrome (DES) or Dysfunctional Tear Syndrome, is a common condition that affects millions of people. Despite the constant rain, the air humidity in the Pacific Northwest is actually relatively low compared to most parts of the country. Insufficient blinking is the root cause for ocular surface inflammation, that over time results in poor tear function. When we read, our blink reflex is slowed or suppressed. This increased exposure of our ocular surface to the air, over time results in a chronic and progressive build up of inflammation and salinity of the tear film. Relative corneal numbing from contact lens wear or LASIK surgery, can further slow blinking, and only aggravates the condition.

 

Symptoms

  • Stinging or burning
  • Scratchiness
  • Blurry vision relieved with blinking
  • Irritation from smoke or wind
  • Excess tearing
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses.

 

Diagnosis

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Dry eye can be diagnosed by using a variety of simple tests, such as measuring fluid tear production with the Schirmer’s or Phenol Red Thread testing. Surface staining of with Green or Rose colored dyes correlates well with symptoms. Fluorescein staining of the tears and corneal surface also shows how dysfunctional and symptomatic the ocular surface has become.

 

Treatment

There are numerous treatments available for dry eyes and Dr. Chen may determine that the best treatment is a combination of treatments. Dry eyes are often a chronic condition and the goal of treatment is not only to regain, but also maintain clear, comfortable vision.

Over the counter artificial tears are similar to your own tears in their ability to bind fluid onto the surface of the cornea. They lubricate the eyes and help maintain moisture. There are many brands on the market, so you may want to try several to find the one you like best. If use is required more than 3 times per day, then preservative free versions of these drops are recommended, as the preservative toxicity can negate any benefit.

Omega-3 fatty acid oral supplements also help. Fish oil contains more Omega 3 than Flax seed oil, but both can help. If you require more than several drops per day of the artificial tears and are still symptomatic, prescription Restasis drops twice daily can help reduce the chronic inflammation, and slowly heal the ocular surface. Oils from lotion, cooking, makeup, as well as your own eyelid glands, can build up over time on the eye surface and can also make the tear film dysfunctional. These patients may benefit from warm compresses, followed by lidscrubs using products such as SteriLid, Ocusoft pads, or even baby soap. In severe cases, medications such as Azasite or oral doxycycline may be helpful if the oil glands of the eyelids are inflamed or occluded.

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Conserving your eyes’ own tears is another approach to keeping the eyes moist. Tears drain out of the eye through a small channel into the nose. The closure of the tear duct with the use of punctual plugs conserves your own tears and makes artificial tears last longer.

Tears evaporate like any other liquid. You can take steps to prevent evaporation by using high wrap glasses or sport style glasses that have padding, which inherently restricts the airflow. In winter, when indoor heat is on, a humidifier or a pan of water on the radiator adds moisture to dry air and is especially helpful by the computer or where you enjoy reading.

Specializing in Cataracts and Eyelid Surgery