Eyestyle are the dry eye specialists.
Many people suffer with occasionally gritty and dry feeling eyes. For most this is a mild irritation that comes and goes with perhaps the need for an occasional eye drop often purchased from the pharmacy. However for a smaller group this discomfort is a constant companion often made worse by things that promote drying such as air condition or air travel.
While drops are effective in mild cases of dry eye their effect is temporary and really treats the symptom rather than the root cause of the problem.
To understand dry eye we first have to understand the makeup of a normal tear film. Your tears are produced constantly through the day and play many roles in not only keeping the eye comfortable but also preventing infection and giving clear vision.
Most people that have dry eye symptoms do not have a deficiency in the watery component of the tears (the exception being conditions such as Sjogren’s syndrome and people taking certain types of medication).
Evaporative dry eye is a much more common problem. In this condition there is reduced production of the oily component of the tears. This leads to an increase in tear evaporation and subsequently dryness.
Understanding the source of the discomfort is vital to putting in place a treatment plan that works. As such the information provided below is of a general nature only and should not be relied upon for treatment purposes.
Dry eye treatments:
- Drops: these days there are a multitude of dry eye drops and no two are exactly the same. For people with mild dry eye we generally recommend the use of Systane ultra which has a gel like consistency that fills in gaps in the tear film to provide longer lasting comfort than more liquid preparations.
- In cases where the burning is due to increased tear acidity or osmolarity we will tend to suggest the use of Theratears non preserved drops. These have a hypotonic formulation and neutral pH which will normalize the pH and salt concentration effectively.
Most intermittent dry eye will have an evaporative component. Products such as Tears again spray and systane balance are particularly good in these cases.
- Nutrition: Omega 3 supplementation has been shown to be effective at both reducing the symptoms associated with dry and also objectively improving the quantity and stability of the tear film. Products such as Theratears nutrition are an ideal supplement for patients wanting to reduce or eliminate their dependence on eye drops.
- Punctal Plugs: are a silicone device placed in to one or both of the tear drainage canals in the eyelids. These devices reduce the drainage of fluid from the eye and can prove to be a silver bullet in dealing with more severe cases of dry eye.
- Pharmaceutical agents: it has long been understood that there is an inflammatory component to dry eye. In recent times we have seen the use of low doses of immunosuppressant eye drops such as cyclosporine or tacrolimus have been shown to improve symptoms. Additionally short courses of steroid eyedrops can also be helpful.
- Environmental measures: taking steps to minimize the evaporation of tears are a useful measure. These can include things such as humidifiers and glasses or goggles that can create a barrier to evaporation. Making sure you remain well hydrated and limiting alcohol and caffeine care also helpful (particularly in older people.
As with managing any medical condition dry eye is best managed by an experienced clinician who can properly assess the problem and create a treatment plan. No one treatment will work for every case and a scattergun approach is best avoided.