Dry eye is one of the most common eye conditions to affect adults in the United States, yet a shocking number of patients are unaware that they are suffering from the condition or are too anxious to seek support for fear that they may need glasses/contact lenses or some degree of surgical treatment to alleviate their symptoms.
Dry eye occurs when the eyes either fail to produce enough natural tear film or the natural moisture present on the eyes evaporates far too quickly. This causes a range of unpleasant and sometimes debilitating symptoms including dry, stiff eyes, scratchiness, blurred vision, difficulty wearing contact lenses and sensitivity to light amongst others. Many instances of dry eye will go away as quickly as they appeared and before you need any professional support. However, a percentage of patients will experience such severe or chronic symptoms that they have to take active steps to obtain relief. Fortunately, there are a number of options available. Here is our guide to some of the most effective forms of dry eye relief.
Eyedrops are normally always the first line of treatment for dry eyes. There are numerous types of eye drops available, and many patients need several in order to find the one that works best for them. Most of these are artificial tears, which means that their ingredients are designed purely to lubricate the surface of the eyes. However, there are other types that contact anti-inflammatories, steroids and other medications that can help reduce inflammation associated with dry eye syndrome. Your eye doctor will be able to advise you which is the best type to try to obtain relief from your dry eye.
If your dry eye is believed to be caused by the natural lubrication of your eye draining too quickly, you may be recommended to try a solution called punctual plugs. These are small, sterile devices that are inserted into the drainage ducts in the inner corner of the upper and lower eyelids. This helps to keep tear film on the surface of the eyes for longer, relieving your symptoms.
If your dry eye is believed to be caused by clogged glands that are preventing adequate tear film from being produced, you may be told to use warm compresses to help clear the blockages. This simple treatment involves heating a face cloth to a reasonably warm temperature and holding it against your eyes for up to ten minutes at a time at least twice each day. The warmth will help to break down hardened deposits within the glands responsible for tear film production, enabling lubrication to reach the eyes. There is another treatment that is similar to this, but whereby the heat is created using a machine called LipiFlow which not only warms the glands but also uses pulsation to help clear the blockages.
Dry eye lenses are a type of specialty contact lens. This means that they are different from conventional contact lenses in that they are designed to treat address a specific issue that makes regular contacts unsuitable for the patient. In this instance, dry eye lenses are designed to treat … yes, you guessed it, dry eyes. Typically, people with dry eyes find it difficult to wear regular contact lenses. This is because their eyes aren’t lubricated enough to keep the contact lenses comfortable on the surface of the eyes.
There are several different types of dry eye lenses that are available for people suffering from this condition, although it may be a case of trial and error to find the variety that works best for you. Firstly, there are soft contact lenses that have been proven to be much more comfortable and effective for patients with dry eyes. This is because they are made of flexible plastic that enables oxygen to pass through them to the eye. Secondly, there are rigid contact lenses that are made of gas-permeable material. Again, these allow for oxygen to pass through the lens to reach the eye. Finally, there are soft lenses made from a material called hydrogel. Hydrogel and silicone-based hydrogel lenses facilitate slower evaporation of tear film on the eye, keeping them better hydrated and more comfortable.
If you would like more advice about dry eye relief, or to schedule a consultation for your eyes to be assessed, please speak to our office in Fremont, CA where our experienced team would be happy to help.