Dry Eye Syndrome can range from mild irritation to a chronic problem.
Symptoms may include:
Dry, irritated, or red eyes
Excessive tearing/watery eyes
Sore or sensitive eyes
A gritty or pasty feeling in the eyelids
Crusty or gunky eyes
Causes of Dry Eye
Lifestyle & Work
Poor tear quality
Contact lens wear
How can I improve my lifestyle to prevent and treat dry eye syndrome?
There are many ways to treat dry eye syndrome or ocular surface disease. First, we want to prevent dry eye symptoms before they begin and address lifestyle factors that can make it worse.
The 20-20-20 Rule:
One of the most common treatments is very simple! Just BLINK! Using digital devices we tend to blink 50% less! So take 20 seconds, every 20 minutes, and look at an object at least 20 feet away to give your eyes a needed reset.
Diet & Healthy Oils:
A healthy diet is always essential for maintaining optimal health. Omega 3 fatty acids have been conclusively shown to help maintain good vision and eye health, as well as decrease dry eye symptoms.
Fish and flaxseed are good natural sources of Omega 3 fatty acids, also available in tablet/supplement form. There are even formulations specific for dry eyes. These usually consist of Omega 3 with DHA from flaxseed oil and include vitamin C, vitamin E, Vitamin B6, magnesium, and a variety of other vitamins specifically geared toward patients with dry eyes.
Poor intake of water directly correlates to a poor supply of tears, especially in hot and dry conditions. It is recommended that we should take in around 64-100 oz of water a day.
East Tennesseans are particularly at severe risk for dry eye syndrome!
Air pollution, sudden seasonal changes, and sedentary air in the valley can increase eye irritation.
Lipiscan: Sometimes, a visual inspection of the eyes isn’t enough. Since a problem with the meibomian glands (which produce those essential lubricating lipids) is most often to blame for chronic dry eyes, it’s important to get the best digital image of the meibomian glands possible. That’s why dry eye specialists use LipiScan, which takes a high-resolution digital image of the lower AND upper glands.
Such imaging tells us a lot about how healthy your oil glands are. Are they healthy? Blocked? Dilating? Atrophied? Gunky? Is the oil cloudy or clear? ― cloudy oil indicates the presence of a bacterial infection which thickens the oils until they simply are no longer effective. We can prescribe a course of antibiotics for this as well.
Dry Eye Evaluation: Our dry eye evaluation provides the latest technology to assess your individual needs. We diagnose your dry eye type by asking a series of questions and performing tests to discern these answers:
How effectively are you blinking?
Are your glands lined up properly?
What’s the consistency of your tears?
How fast do your tears evaporate?
What is the volume of your tears?
Vital dye testing: Our dry eye clinician will assess your tear breakup time. Sometimes, tears don’t last long enough to work effectively. In order to test this, we instill an orange dye to investigate this and other corneal diseases and emergencies. The clinician will lightly “paint” your eyes with the paper strip and as you blink the dye will spread and coat the tears to make them visible under a blue light to reveal problems.
What is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?
Over 80% of chronic dry eye is caused by Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). Meibomian glands in your eyelid produce the oily protective layer of your tears to prevent your tears from evaporating. In MGD, these glands become inflamed and their oily secretions become thick like butter.
Unfortunately, in many patients, these glands can die over time, and we only have a limited number of these glands!
We take your eye health and comfort seriously! If you are diagnosed with dry eyes, we have a variety of treatment options:
Artificial Tears – We have a variety of eye drops available including Oasis Tears as well as gels and ointments to use at night
Omega-3s – Help maintain the lipid (oil) layer of your tear film. Our doctors can recommend the exact amount necessary for your condition
Warm Compresses – Heat liquefies the oil in your tear glands in order to improve tear flow. It’s like a “spa” treatment at home! We have Oasis Rest & Relief Masks available.
Lid Hygiene – Special cleansers can help keep meibomian glands clear such as Oasis Lid & Lash.
Punctal Occlusion – This painless, in-office procedure helps increase the volume of tears in your eyes
Prescription Medication Relief – Certain prescription medications can provide both short and long-term relief of symptoms
Healthy meibum is clear, and adequate and should be assessed by your eye doctor on an annual basis.
The more severe the blockage of your meibomian glands, the thicker and cloudier the meibum appears.
Severely blocked glands, if left untreated, can result in decreased meibomian gland functionality.
Our doctors and trained staff use SystaneⓇ iLuxⓇ, an in-office treatment using thermal pulsation to gauge the quantity and quality of the oil your glands produce to recommend treatment options.
We are proud to be one of the first offices in East Tennessee to offer SystaneⓇ iLux®
Learn more about iLux® with this PDF.
If you suffer from dry eye symptoms, make an appointment now with one of our optometric physicians. Relief from dry eye can make a world of difference in your day-to-day quality of life!