Dry eyes are an extremely common eye condition. Caused by either a lack of tear film, poor quality tear film, or the film draining too quickly, dry eye can make your eyes feel dry, sore, and uncomfortable. Although it won’t cause any permanent damage to your vision, it can make day-to-day life more difficult than it needs to be. Fortunately, there are plenty of treatments that can help.
The good news is that there are things that you can do that can help to prevent dry eyes from occurring in the first place, and these are all things that you can do at home. One of the most important is to protect your eyes where there is any risk of damage. This means wearing sunglasses that are proven to block out 99-100% of UV light whenever you are outside.
If you spend a lot of time using screens, taking regular breaks can help to prevent dry eyes too. That’s because we naturally blink less when we are focusing on screens, which causes our eyes to quickly become dehydrated. We recommend that you take a screen break at least every 20 minutes, turning your visual attention to something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This is known as the 20/20/20 rule, with longer screen breaks being recommended every couple of hours.
Artificial tears are a very popular treatment choice for dry eyes. They can be purchased over the counter or from your eye doctor and should be applied exactly as directed. As their name suggests, they work by replicating natural tear film, causing the eyes to feel more hydrated and comfortable. However, they don’t treat the underlying cause of the condition.
There are two types of artificial tears. These are:
Low viscosity artificial tears – These are very watery and provide quick relief with little to no blurring of your vision. However, the effects don’t last long, and you may find yourself needing to apply them frequently during the day
High viscosity artificial tears – This variety is more gel-like in consistency and provides longer-lasting lubrication. However, when you apply them, they will initially blur your vision for several minutes each time
If over-the-counter treatments aren’t providing enough relief, you may be recommended to try a prescription treatment instead. There are several choices. These include the following:
Antibiotics - These work by addressing any infection and reducing inflammation that could be affecting tear film production
Anti-inflammatory medications - These also work by reducing inflammation that could be contributing to your dry eyes
Tear-stimulators - These drugs are designed to prompt tear production
Speciality contact lenses - If you usually wear contact lenses, switching to a speciality type such as scleral lenses can help. This is because some specialty lenses trap moisture on the surface of the eyes, keeping them hydrated
Autologous blood serum drops - Made with a sample of your own blood and a special salt solution, these drops are highly effective at treating serious dry eye that isn’t responsive to other treatments
If other treatments are ineffective, or you would like to consider an alternative, there are also a couple of procedures that can help to tackle the effects of dry eyes. These are:
Punctal plugs - These tiny, biocompatible devices are placed into tear ducts to block them partially or fully, keeping tear film on the eyes for longer so that they feel better lubricated. This is done under local anaesthetic to ensure that you don’t experience any discomfort
LipiFlow - This thermal pulsation treatment helps to unblock clogged oil glands using a combination of warmth and massage to release hardened oil deposits. It is completely painless and takes around 12 minutes per eye
If you would like to learn more about treatment for dry eyes, or to schedule an appointment, please contact Shalimar Eye Care in Shalimar, Florida by calling (850) 972-1600 today.