What is Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome is one of the most common eye conditions in the world. Millions of Americans suffer from dry eye syndrome each year. If you have ever experienced the dry, itchy, red eyes that come along with this condition, you understand how frustrating it can be.
Dry eye syndrome occurs when your eyes do not produce enough tears, or when the tears that are produced are of bad quality. Most people suffer from a type of dry eye syndrome called “evaporative” dry eye. This means that the meibomian glands inside of the eyelids are not producing enough lipids (oils) to keep tears from evaporating too quickly.
Dry eye symptoms can range from mild to extremely uncomfortable, sometimes making daily tasks more difficult. Reading, driving, using a computer or watching a television can all become more difficult when dealing with dry eye symptoms.
It can be a struggle for some people to find the right treatment for their symptoms. Different treatments work for different types of dry eye syndrome. Luckily, there are many different treatment options available today, meaning that one is bound to work for you.
Symptoms and Diagnostics
Dry eye syndrome appears differently in each patient. If you are experiencing all or some of the following symptoms, chances are you have dry eye syndrome:
- Dry eyes
- Grittiness (like something is in your eye)
- Excessive tearing, followed by periods of dryness
The only way to know for sure if you have dry eye syndrome is to contact your doctor for a diagnostic test. From there, your doctor will decide on a course of treatment that will work for you.
There are several different types of diagnostic tests used to diagnose dry eye. Your doctor will choose which diagnostic test to run based off of your symptoms. One of the most common of these tests is the Schirmer’s test. During this test, your doctor will collect some of your tears from your inner eyelid using a small strip of filter paper. These pieces of filter paper will measure the amount of moisture on your eye.
Treatments for Dry Eye Syndrome
Once it has been determined that you have dry eye syndrome, your doctor will decide what the best course of action is. There are many different types of treatments, and it can sometimes take some trial and error to see which one works for you. Here are some of the most common types of dry eye treatment:
- Eye drops. These are usually the first course of treatment, and can be purchased over-the-counter. You may also be prescribed more potent eye drops, such as RESTASIS® if the over-the-counter drops do not work. Eye drops are great for managing symptoms short term or as needed, but they do not always help to solve the root of the problem.
- LipiFlow®. LipiFlow helps to treat evaporative dry eye. LipiFlow utilizes gentle heat and massage to help open up the meibomian glands and stimulate lipid production. Unlike other dry eye treatments, LipiFlow helps treat the cause of the symptoms and has long-term effects.
- Punctum plugs. Punctum plugs tiny plugs used to block the tear ducts on the inner corner of the eye. This helps patient’s to keep tears in their eyes for longer. These can be temporary or permanent.
- Eye vitamins. Your doctor may recommend vitamins that should help eye health over time. Omega-3 supplements have been shown to help improve dry eye symptoms over time. These can be combined with other dry eye treatments.
If you are suffering from dry eye syndrome and want relief, make an appointment with a dry eye doctor near you!