While dry eye may not seem like a serious issue, it can have a major impact on your quality of life. You may find your eyes get tired faster or you have difficulty reading. Not to mention the discomfort of a burning sensation or blurry vision. Let’s take a look at dry eye treatments – from simple self-care to innovative prescriptions and therapies – to help you see clearly and comfortably.
Understanding dry eye will help you determine the best treatment option. Dry eye comes in two main types: aqueous-deficient (not enough tears) or evaporative (poor quality tears). The majority of individuals actually have evaporative dry eyes. This means that the eyes may make plenty of tears, but the tears are not great quality. Tears reduce eye infections, wash away foreign matter, and keep the eye’s surface smooth for clear vision. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, especially in older adults.
Before we delve into more serious dry eye treatment options, here are a few simple self-care options that can manage minor cases of dry eye.
Blink regularly when reading or staring at a computer screen for a long time. Your eyes dont blink as much when focusing.
Make sure there’s adequate humidity in the air at work and at home.
Wear sunglasses outside to reduce sun and wind exposure. Wraparound glasses are best.
Take a high quality Omega 3 (like ProOmega) to reduce inflammation.
Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water each day to avoid dehydration.
Find out if any of your prescriptions have dry eye as a side effect and if so, see if you can take an alternative.
For mild cases of dry eyes, the best option can be over-the-counter eye drops. Here are a few tips for selecting the right one:
Low viscosity – These artificial tears are watery. They often provide quick relief with little or no blurring of your vision, but their effect can be brief, and sometimes you must use these drops frequently to get adequate relief.
High viscosity – These are more gel-like and provide longer-lasting lubrication. However, these drops can cause significant blurring of your vision for several minutes. For this reason, high-viscosity artificial tears are recommended at bedtime.
There are several prescriptions that treat dry eye differently. Your eye doctor can advise the best option for your situation.
Anti-inflammatory drugs – These are eye drops to control inflammation on the surface of your eyes (cornea) using the immune-suppressing medications like Xiidra, Cequa, Restasis, or short-term corticosteroids.
Autologous blood serum drops – For serious dry eye that’s not responding to other treatment, these eyedrops are made with a sample of your blood. It’s processed to remove the red blood cells and then mixed with a salt solution.
Punctal Plugs – Tear ducts can be plugged with tiny silicone or collagen plugs to reduce tear loss. By partially or completely closing your tear ducts, it can keep your tears from leaving your eye too quickly.
Meibomian Expression – This in-office treatment helps to unblock oil glands. After 10-15 minutes of warm compress on the eyes, the doctor will use an instrument to gently squeeze the eyelid glands. This can provide relief for months to years.
Intense-Pulsed Therapy (IPL)– This utilizes pulses of light to liquefy and release hardened oils that have clogged glands in the eyelids. It is also beneficial for surface inflammation related problems such as rosacea.
You don’t have to suffer from the symptoms of dry eye. Talk to your optometrist about dry eye treatment options designed to address the underlying cause of your condition.