Bye-Bye Dry Eyes

Say bye to dry eyes

Tears serve many purposes from expressing an emotional response, protecting against allergies and foreign matter like dust and eyelashes by rinsing the eyes, and tears are vital to maintaining a healthy ocular surface and vision. When something disrupts the quantity or quality of tears produced the corneas will not be moisturized or lubricated properly leading to  burning, itchy, gritty, sore eyes. We can place special dyes in the eye and observe punctate keratitis or dry eye syndrome.

There are three components to your tears to help them work effectively. They contain distinctive layers: mucous, water and oil.  The mucous layer is produced by goblet cells on the conjunctiva and help the tear spread evenly over the surface of the eyes. This layer is usually most affected by use of antihistamines and other medications. The oil layer helps prevent evaporation of the tear film. We lose roughly 80% of our tears through evaporation. The watery layer is produced by the lacrimal gland and is subject to systemic disease like Sjogren’s syndrome, autoimmune disease and hormone levels.

There are a number of things that can contribute to dry eye syndrome like medications, systemic diseases, age, environmental factors, contact lens use, Refractive surgical patients and anatomical or physiological conditions of the eyelids. Why is this so important? The cornea receives nourishment and immunological protection from the tears. The cornea is the clear dome over the eye and it contains no blood vessels, so tear health is of great importance to corneal health and vision.

Treatments include:

  • Artificial Tears –These over the counter drops can help alleviate short-term symptoms of dry eye like burning. In mild cases this is often adequate especially when the symptoms are brought on by computer use. They do have preservative free options which is more desirable when treating an already irritated eye.
  • Salves, gels and ointments are helpful for overnight protection. There is also a prescription, Lacrisert, that is made for during the day sustained release in severe dry eye.
  • Restasis -Prescription immunomodulator that helps patients with autoimmune diseases effectively produce more tears. It may take three to six months to notice the effects of this medication since it is reducing the deterioration that is caused by an autoimmune disease on the lacrimal gland.
  • Punctal Plugs -This is a procedure where a plug is inserted into the punctum allowing the existing tears to stay in the eye instead of draining into the nose. These plugs can be removed and may even fall out so this is reversible. If the punctal plugs were effective there is a surgical option to close the punctum of the lower lids permanently.
  • Dietary -Studies show that increased omega-3 consumption leads to more quality oils produced by the eyelids meaning the decreased loss of tears through evaporation.

With increased computer use, contact lens use and medication usage there is a growing population dealing with the challenges of dry eye syndrome. Optique Professional Eye Care is there to help you navigate the challenges of coping with dry eyes and after an examination give you a better idea of the underlying cause and give relevant treatment strategies. Give us a call today t see how we can help put you on the right treatment path.

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