It’s common to experience dry eyes every once and while, especially if you suffer from seasonal allergies. But for some, dry eyes can be more than just a seasonal nuisance. They can be an obstacle to your daily productivity and even reduce your quality of life. Fortunately, dry eye treatments have evolved over the past decade. There are a variety of treatment options available for those with dry eyes, which range from simple home remedies to multistep plans. All are aimed at helping your eyes produce more tears.
If you are experiencing dry eyes, schedule an appointment with your eye doctor. Clarkson Eyecare’s team of eye doctors can determine the cause, assess the severity, and provide a treatment plan that is best suited for you. Learn more about some of the dry eye treatment options your eye doctor may recommend with Clarkson Eyecare.
Dry eyes can increase your risk of developing an eye condition or an injury that could even negatively affect your vision. Tears are produced to keep your eyes lubricated and free from potentially harmful debris. If the surface of the eye is not kept free of debris, you have a high chance of developing a corneal abrasion, or an injury to the surface of the eye. This exposes your eye to many potentially harmful eye infections.
Dry eye is caused by your eye being unable to produce enough tears to stay moisturized. This can cause discomfort and even lead to vision problems. Those at a higher risk for developing dry eye are those over the age of 50, especially women due to menopause. Additionally, those that wear contact lenses or are experiencing vitamin A deficiency are also at a higher risk. Dry eye can be caused by a variety of factors, such as:
Side effect of medication
Laser eye surgery
Dry or windy environments
Various health conditions, such as lupus, diabetes, or thyroids
Commonly sold over-the-counter, artificial tears provide moisture to the eyes and contain ingredients similar to what's found in your natural tears. Most eye doctors prefer preservative-free artificial tears, as many preservatives can cause further irritation. Use artificial tears as needed to make your eyes more comfortable but are a short-term treatment option. If you find yourself using them more than four times a day, set up an appointment with one of our optometrists to find a more effective treatment option.
Sometimes, you may need a treatment that's more intensive than artificial tears. Eye ointments are also sold over the counter but are thicker than artificial tears. Because they are thicker and may affect your vision, they are typically used at night. Ointments may be particularly helpful if you find yourself regularly waking up with scratchy eyes.
Some patients have dry eye caused by a blockage of the oil glands around the eyelids. This can lead to a type of inflammation referred to as blepharitis. If diagnosed, your eye doctor can recommend eyelid cleansers as well as a warm compress regimen to combat inflammation.
Prescription eye drops, such as Cequa, Restasis, and Xidra, work to target eye inflammation and help your eyes produce more tears. These medicines are usually reserved for treating moderate to severe dry eye. Your doctor may also discuss other medications that can help your dry eyes, such as corticosteroids and antibiotics. Some of these medications are eye drops, while others are taken orally.
Punctal plugs are a treatment option that helps your eye hold onto its own tears. Your eye doctor inserts this small device into your tear ducts to help you conserve your natural tears longer.
A rather advanced dry eye treatment option for more severe symptoms is to use eye drops made from your own blood. These drops are called autologous serum drops and can be quite effective. The process involves taking a blood sample, removing the blood cells, and then combining them with a salt solution. The resulting serum has elements like your natural tears, allowing you to apply it to your eyes as eye drops. Autologous serum drops are a long-term option for treating dry eye disease. However, this is not a common treatment option.
If you're able to prevent dry eye symptoms, your eyes will thank you. Here are a few quick tips to help avoid dry eyes and increase your eye health:
Add a humidifier to any room where you spend a lot of time
Avoid exposure to smoke
Make sure your eyes aren't directly exposed to air vents and fans
Take breaks from screen time regularly to refresh your eyes. Make sure to blink regularly when using screens
Wear sunglasses when you are outside, as this helps to lower exposure to the wind and other elements
Drink enough water every day; dehydration can make your symptoms worse
Whatever the cause of your dry eye, there are several treatment options that may alleviate your symptoms and help you feel more comfortable.
If you have a persistent problem that doesn't respond to over-the-counter eye drops, be sure to schedule a visit with your local Clarkson Eyecare to get to the root of the problem. To schedule an appointment, find a location near you.