Dry eye 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 occurs when a person doesn't have enough quality tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears reduce eye infections, wash away foreign matter, and keep the eye’s surface smooth and clear. People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears or their tears are poor quality. It’s a common, chronic, and progressive condition that can affect people of all ages.
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.
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 supplements with essential fatty acids such as omega 3, as these may decrease dry eye symptoms.
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.
Ensure you are getting uninterrupted, restful sleep.
For mild cases of dry eyes, the best option is 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.
For the most gentle and effective treatment, use of preservative-free artificial tears is recommended.
There are several prescriptions that treat dry eye differently. Your eye doctor can advise the best option for your situation.
Contact Lenses – There are specialty contact lenses that deliver moisture to the surface of the eye. They’re called scleral lenses or bandage lenses.
Antibiotics– If your eyelids are inflamed from overgrowth of normal bacteria, this can prevent oil glands from secreting oil into your tears. Your doctor may recommend antibiotics to reduce inflammation.
Anti-inflammatory drugs – These are eye drops to control inflammation on the surface of your eyes (cornea) using the immune-suppressing medications (Restasis, Xiidra, or Cequa) or corticosteroids.
Eye Inserts – If artificial tears don't help, another option may be a tiny eye insert. Once a day, you place the hydroxypropyl cellulose (Lacrisert) insert between your lower eyelid and your eyeball. It dissolves slowly, releasing a substance to lubricate your eye.
Tear-stimulating drugs – New nasal spray, Tyrvaya, increases your natural tear production.
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.
Tear Care Heat Therapy and Meibomian Gland Expression- this treatment helps to unblock oil glands. Placed on your eyelids, the Tear Care device delivers heat for 15 minutes, followed by expression of trapped oil. For more information click here.
Intense-Pulsed Therapy – This utilizes pulses of light to liquefy and release hardened oils that have clogged glands in the eyelids.
Low-Light Therapy: This treatment uses various light frequencies to target chronic inflammation that leads to dry eye
Amniotic membrane: Using naturally derived healing properties, amniotic membranes can heal areas of the cornea affected by chronic dry eye, restore balance to the tear film and act as a jumpstart to healing.
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.