Do your eyes ever feel dry, itchy or gritty? Do you find it difficult to naturally produce tears? Are you overly dependent on moisturizing eye drops to help you get through the workday? Perhaps, like thousands of people, you wake up in the middle of the night and cannot produce natural tears when you blink? This could be attributable to dryness or irritation. Even worse, you cannot even open your eyes without having to rub them. Dry eye syndrome is a very complex disorder usually stemming from either a blockage of tear ducts or inflammation.
Moisturizing drops might seem like a good idea, but in some cases, these can make the disorder worse. Most eye drops contain chemicals and preservatives that irritate the eyes and make them more prone to dryness.
Furthermore, some of these drops can disrupt the aqueous and lipid layer’s tear and oil production. Once there is an imbalance of these, the tears will hyper accelerate and evaporate before being able to moisturize the eye naturally.
If these issues are left unaddressed, it can lead to epithelial damage and vision loss.
The following information is provided by the American Ophthalmology Association:
Dry eyes can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination. Testing with emphasis on the evaluation of the quantity and quality of tears produced by the eyes may include:
• Patient history to determine the patient’s symptoms and to note any general health problems, medications or environmental factors that may be contributing to the dry eye problem.
• External examination of the eye, including lid structure and blink dynamics.
• Evaluation of the eyelids and cornea using bright light and magnification.
• Measurement of the quantity and quality of tears for any abnormalities. Special dyes may be put in the eyes to better observe tear flow and to highlight any changes to the outer surface of the eye caused by insufficient tears.
• With the information obtained from testing, a doctor of optometry can determine if you have dry eyes and advise you on treatment options.
Treatments for dry eyes aim to restore or maintain the normal amount of tears in the eye to minimize dryness and related discomfort and to maintain eye health. Dry eyes can be a chronic condition, but a doctor of optometry can prescribe treatment to keep your eyes healthy and comfortable and to prevent your vision from being affected. The primary approaches used to manage and treat dry eyes include adding tears using over-the-counter artificial tear solutions, conserving tears, increasing tear production, and treating the inflammation of the eyelids or eye surface that contributes to the dry eyes.
• Adding tears. Mild cases of dry eyes can often be managed using over-the-counter artificial tear solutions. These can be used as often as needed to supplement natural tear production. Preservative-free artificial tear solutions are recommended because they contain fewer additives, which can further irritate the eyes. People with dry eyes that don’t respond to artificial tears alone will need to take additional steps to treat their dry eyes.
• Conserving tears. Keeping natural tears in the eyes longer can reduce the symptoms of dry eyes. This can be done by blocking the tear ducts through which the tears normally drain. The tear ducts can be blocked with tiny silicone or gel-like plugs that can be removed if needed. Or a surgical procedure can permanently close the tear ducts. In either case, the goal is to keep the available tears in the eye longer to reduce problems related to dry eyes.
• Increasing tear production. A doctor of optometry can prescribe eye drops that increase tear production. Taking an omega-3 fatty acid nutritional supplement may also help.
• Treating the contributing eyelid or ocular surface inflammation. A doctor of optometry might recommend prescription eye drops or ointments, warm compresses and lid massage, or eyelid cleaners to help decrease inflammation around the surface of the eyes.
You can take the following steps to reduce symptoms of dry eyes:
• Remember to blink regularly when reading or staring at a computer screen for long periods of time.
• Increase the humidity in the air at work and at home.
• Wear sunglasses outdoors, particularly those with wraparound frames, to reduce exposure to drying winds and the sun.
• Nutritional supplements containing essential fatty acids may help decrease dry eye symptoms in some people. Ask your doctor if taking dietary supplements could help your dry eye problems.
• Avoiding becoming dehydrated by drinking plenty of water (8 to 10 glasses) each day.
• Avoid air getting blown in your eyes by directing car heaters away from your face.
• Avoid environments that are drier than normal, such as deserts, airplanes, and places at high altitudes.
Quigley Eye Specialists, founded in 1988, consists of more than 70 medical professionals, including surgeons, optometrists, retina specialists and technicians. Offices are conveniently located throughout Southwest Florida in Fort Myers, Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres, Bonita Springs, Naples, Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda.
Quigley Eye Specialists
675 Piper Blvd., Naples, FL 34110
(855) 734-2020 | www.QuigleyEye.com
1. AAO, “Healthy Eyes,” Vitamins, American Academy of Ophthalmology aao.org, 2019 https://www.nei.nih.gov/areds2
About Quigley Eye Specialists
Technology leaders in eye care, Quigley Eye Specialists is one of the nation’s leading multispecialty ophthalmology practices specializing in cataracts, laser cataract surgery, glaucoma, iLASIK, dry eye, eyelid surgery, retinal issues, corneal conditions, routine eye care and facial plastic surgery. As the number one choice for cataract treatment in Southwest Florida, Quigley Eye Specialists is committed to providing the highest level of quality eye care and service to the community. For more information or a full list of locations, visit www.QuigleyEye.com.