If you suffer from dry eye syndrome you aren’t alone. The condition affects millions of people during the course of their lifetime. And while for some people, dry eye syndrome may come and go, others will find that they experience chronic symptoms that affect how comfortably and how well they can see.
Dry eye syndrome is caused by a problem with the tear film. Our eyes need a continuous supply of tear film to keep them hydrated and able to move around comfortably. People with dry eye syndrome normally find that their tear film is affected in one of three ways:
Their eyes aren’t making enough tear film
The tear film quality is compromised as the tears don’t contain enough oil
The tear film drains from the eyes too quickly
Dry eyes can affect anyone at any age, but it is more common in people who meet certain characteristics. This includes those who are:
Over the age of 50
Spending a lot of time using digital devices
Taking certain medications including some types of antidepressants and antihistamines
Fortunately, diagnosing dry eye is a fairly simple, non-invasive process. Initially, your eye doctor will speak to you about the symptoms that you have been experiencing and how they affect your day-to-day life.
Some of the most common symptoms of dry eye syndrome include:
Sensitivity to light and glare
Redness around the eyes
Stringy mucus in or around the eyes
Stinging, burning, or scratchiness
Feeling as though there is something in your eyes
Pain, discomfort, and difficulty placing and removing contact lenses
Difficulty with night-time driving due to focus and glare from lights
Following this consultation, they may perform an analysis of your tear film. This can be done by placing a tiny strip of tissue or paper onto the lower eyelids and watching to see how quickly they take on moisture from the eyes. The longer it takes for the paper to become wet, the less tear film you are likely to have.
The good news is that dry eye syndrome can be treated relatively easily and there are many different treatment options available, meaning that there is almost certainly going to be one that works for you. Your eye doctor will try and determine exactly what is causing your dry eye to help narrow down your treatment choices and get you on the right track to symptoms relief as quickly as possible.
Some of the treatments which you may be recommended to try could include some of the following:
Artificial tears. While these don’t deal with the underlying cause of dry eye, they do hydrate the eyes by replicating natural tear film. This can help to relieve your symptoms day to day and there’s usually no limit as to how often they can be applied.
Prescription eyedrops. These eyedrops contain medications that are designed to counteract inflammation that could be contributing towards your dry eye, or to prompt the production of additional tear film. Always follow the instructions provided by your eye doctor.
Compress and massage. If your dry is caused by meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) then you may be recommended to try using warm compresses on your eyes before gently massaging the skin around them. This can help to break down hardened oil deposits and remove them from the meibomian glands so that oil production for tear film is restored.
LipiFlow. LipiFlow is a thermal pulsation treatment that uses technology to provide warmth and massage to remove blockages in the meibomian glands. This is carried out in-office.
Punctal plugs. If your eye doctor believes that tear film is draining from your eyes too quickly, you may be recommended to have punctal plugs inserted. These are tiny devices placed into the drainage channels of the eyes to slow the rate at which tear film leaves the eyes, keeping it on their surface for longer.
If you would like to talk to someone about your concerns about dry eye syndrome or to schedule an appointment, visit North Shore Eye Health and Wellness in Cedarburg, WI. Call (262) 421-4412 to schedule an appointment today.