Dry eyes are one of the most common eye conditions. Many people only experience very fleeting episodes that resolve themselves before they need to seek professional help. However, a percentage of sufferers experience chronic and recurrent episodes which can be debilitating and unpleasant.
Common symptoms of dry eyes include eyes that are itchy, sore, gritty, red, and sensitive to light. You may find that your vision is blurred, and you might find it hard to put contacts into your eyes or to take them out again. If you are experiencing these symptoms with some regularity, it’s time to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor as there are treatments that can help. These include the following:
Punctal plugs are one of the most effective ways of treating dry eyes that are caused by the tear film draining from the eyes too quickly. These tiny, biocompatible devices are inserted into the tear ducts in the inner corners of the upper and lower eyelids, which are the locations of the drainage channels that enable tear film to flow out of the eyes. By placing the punctal plugs into the drainage channels, it blocks them, preventing tear film from leaving the eye and instead, keeping it on the surface where it helps the eyes to remain lubricated and comfortable.
Punctal plugs are inserted during a small, surgical procedure that is performed using a local anesthetic. There are two varieties available – those which are made from collagen and naturally dissolve over time, or those made from silicone which can last for years. You may be able to feel the plugs when they are first inserted, but you should get used to them very quickly. There’s no downtime to worry about, and the risk of complications is very low.
Our tear film contains water, proteins, and oil and these must be perfectly balanced for the tear film to be effective. Changes to the amount of oil being produced, or the quality of the oil, can affect how well hydrated our eyes are. The most common problem is a blockage in the meibomian glands which provide the oil element of the tear film. Meibomian gland expression is a treatment that is usually recommended for patients whose dry eye is caused by blockages in the glands that produce the oil for our tear film.
Meibomian gland expression involves the application of pressure to the glands. This may be done using the fingers, or a special instrument that is able to compress the glands in order to squeeze out any blockages and allow the oil to flow freely. You may have a warm compress placed over the eyes before the expression, and this helps to heat and therefore release any hardened deposits. The process shouldn’t be painful, but you may be able to have a topical anesthetic before treatment.
Supplements have been shown to be beneficial in helping to reduce dry eyes and your eye doctor will be able to recommend which supplements you could take to alleviate your symptoms.
Some of the best supplements for dry eyes contain omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 had anti-inflammatory properties which can help to reduce inflammation of the tear glands and the surface of the eye, which can be contributing factors to the development of the dry eye. While omega-3 fatty acids can be found in foods such as oily fish, green leafy vegetables, and nuts and seeds, supplements can boost your intake to help counteract the effects of dry eye.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin are two more supplements that you may be recommended. These antioxidants can reduce your risk of developing many different eye diseases including cataracts, glaucoma, and macular degenerations. They can be found in foods like eggs and leafy greens, but supplements can boost their effects.
Other possible supplements that you may be recommended could include vitamin C, vitamin E, and zinc.
For more advice on how to overcome the symptoms of dry eyes, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with our expert team in Rancho Cucamonga, CA.