Dry eye affects millions of patients. Mild dry eye may have few or no symptoms, but it is a chronic, progressive condition. If left untreated, dry eye advances to a more moderate or severe condition and can affect the quality of life. Vision becomes unstable and fluctuates, and eyes become too uncomfortable to read, use a computer or watch a movie. This can affect your ability to work or enjoy social activities. Some patients become self-conscious because their eyes are so red.
WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF DRY EYE?
Evaporative Dry Eye Disease – Inflammation of the meibomian glands located in the eyelids can cause this type of dry eye. Evaporative dry eye is a result of deficiency in the oily lipid layer of the eyes natural tear film. This is where the oily lipids protect the water layer of the eye from evaporation.
Aqueous tear-deficient dry eye is a disorder in which the lacrimal glands fail to produce enough of the watery component of tears to maintain a healthy eye surface.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF DRY EYE?
Symptoms of dry eye vary but many include redness, burning, itching, gritty sensation, crusting and matting of eyelashes, sticky discharge, blurred vision, tired eyes and a heaviness of the lids. Patients may even complain of excessive watering of their eyes.
DRY EYE TREATMENTS
Dry eye treatments vary greatly based on your symptoms and the root cause of your dry eye syndrome.
Lubricating eye drops and ointments. Lubrication is key to keeping dry eye symptoms at bay. For people with mild dry eye, this treatment can be enough to avoid other treatments. For those with severe dry eye, drops and ointments are usually combined with more robust treatments. Eye drops are available without a prescription.
Prescription eye drops. For those with more severe symptoms, or if over-the-counter drops don’t work, stronger medicated eye drops may be prescribed.
Punctal plugs. If drops and ointments do not work, the semi-permanent punctual plugs are another option. These tiny plugs are implanted into the drainage ducts in your eyes and keep tears from draining too quickly. This keeps tears in the eyes for longer.