Did you know that 30% of all people have Dry Eye? Chances are, you may be one of them. Dry Eye has a list of sneaky symptoms that accompany it — from itchy and tired eyes during the day, light sensitivity or blurry vision at night, to being physically unable to enjoy a good cry while watching your favorite drama series on Netflix (don’t worry, we’ve all been there).
If your eyes consistently have the red, itchy feeling of unchecked allergies, but nothing seems to be helping — you may be suffering from Dry Eye. To get the answers you’re looking for, schedule a free phone consultation or make an appointment at our office today.
What is Dry Eye?
First, let’s talk about how things are supposed to work before dry eye sets in. When you fully blink, the glands of your eyelids squeeze out a very small amount of oil onto the margins of your eyelids. This blinking motion distributes the oil to cover the watery layer and protect it from any amount of evaporation.
So, what happens when dry eye sets in? When your glands become blocked, the production of the necessary oil used to protect the water layer is compromised. This causes the water layer to evaporate, leaving your eye exposed and inflamed. This process is known as meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), which happens to be the underlying issue of Dry Eye 86% of the time.
Many people who notice symptoms of Dry Eye setting in experience a scratchy feeling, making it seem like something is in their eye. Aside from that, other symptoms may involve burning, tearing in excess followed by dryness, pain, redness and blurred vision.
Living with Dry Eye symptoms is inevitably painful and frustrating, especially when you feel like you’ve reached a dead end, with few signs of improvement. Like with anything else, the most vital step is to get to the root cause to help you determine what treatment will be most effective.
There are three main causes that attribute to Dry Eye: decreased tear production, increased tear evaporation, and an imbalance in tear composition.
DECREASED TEAR PRODUCTION
You don’t cry … or you can’t cry? This has little to do with being “tough” or not emotional — when your eyes can’t produce tears, it’s not healthy for them. Our mucous membranes need to be saturated at all times. Aging is a common cause of decreased tear production, and LASIK eye surgery can cause a lifetime of dry eye symptoms. Quick tip: if you’re considering LASIK, you should look into Overnight Corneal Reshaping. It’s the no glasses, no daytime contacts & no surgery solution to clear vision.
Young people have also become more at risk for Dry Eye. Excessive amounts of “screen-time” while playing video games or using other digital devices, combined with a lack of blinking can influence Dry Eye in kids and young adults.
More than likely, prolonged inflammation is associated with different medical conditions or medications. You should consider talking to an optometrist who is an authority on dry eye treatments if you have a chronic condition that causes inflammation, such as Sjogrens disease or acne rosacea, or have been taking medications like birth control, antihistamines or antidepressants. Furthermore, hormonal changes and thyroid conditions are also common culprits leading to symptoms of Dry Eye.
INCREASED TEAR EVAPORATION
Persistent irritation and dryness could mean that your lacrimal tears are evaporating more quickly than they are being produced. This type of Dry Eye is often caused by environment, such as an overexposure to wind or dry air, but is also influence by not fully blinking enough. It may sound strange, but not being conscious about blinking fully is a common denominator for Dry Eye.
If you spend your work day in front of a computer screen, mindlessly scrolling on your smart phone after a long day or love reading for long periods of time — your blink rate can diminish enough to cause reflex tearing from a dry eye. Quickly evaporating tears are also an indication that there’s something off with your eyelid function, such as incomplete lid closure while sleeping. Making changes to your environment, work or screen-time habits may still leave you substantially symptomatic.
IMBALANCE IN TEAR PRODUCTION
Similar to the PH balance in the water of a swimming pool, your eyes need to maintain a delicate balance of water, mucous, and fatty oils to keep infection out and keep the right moisture level on the ocular surface. When the salt level in your tears is off, this is an indication that you have ocular inflammation. Your eyes are unable to produce enough tears, resulting in dryness, itchiness and variable vision.
Just like the pool at the beginning of summer, the balance in your eyes may need some adjusting. The balance might be compromised between the watery or aqueous layer, the oily layer and mucin layer that make up your tears. Depending on what component is lacking, it could be a sign of damage to a specific gland, such as your meibomian oil glands. As mentioned before, MGD is often times the root cause of Dry Eye.
If left untreated, Dry Eye Syndrome can cause severe side effects — from painfully irritated and red eyes to corneal infections that can cause loss of vision and affect the quality of your life.
HOW TO TREAT DRY EYE
When it comes to treating dry eye, over the counter eye drops are known to provide some temporary relief by adding fluid to your eye. However, they won’t give you the long-lasting relief you’re looking for. Think of them as a bandage for your symptoms – they may mask your symptoms in the moment, but they never really address or treat the underlying issue.
At Brill Eye Center, we avoid the “bandage” or palliative approach like “use drops more often.” We like to take a comprehensive approach that treats your symptoms and gives you relief that lasts.
5-Step Brill Dry Eye Experience
The first step is to take our test to determine if you have Dry Eye. From there, we’ll collect your medical history and determine whether or not your medications are causing any negative side effects with your eyes.
Here we will perform tests to evaluate your blink pattern, possible eyelid inflammation, tear production, and more to give us the full extent of your Dry Eye problem.
This step depends on what we find in Steps 1 and 2. Treatment may involve an prescription eye drop regimen, Lipiflow treatment, ILux treatment, BlephEx, a heated Eye Pad, Intense Pulse Light (IPL), bandage contact lenses, amniotic membrane placement, autologous serum drops or other modalities to treat your condition.
We will provide you with tips to help heal MGD and Dry Eye such as: suggestions for Omega-3 supplements, blink instructions and ongoing professional care and monitoring.
Lastly, we encourage patients to schedule follow up visits to recheck their comfort level and ocular healing progression (how well their eyes are mending).
Don’t put off finding a solution for lasting relief. Get the right treatment and the right solution to get to the root of your Dry Eye problem with individualized eye care at Brill Eye Center. If you’re ready to take the next step, go online and take our Dry Eye Test and schedule your consultation today.
Brill Eye Center has been your trusted partner in eye health and comfort for 35 years and counting. We care about YOU and the future of your eye health, and will do what it takes to provide you with a Dry Eye solution you can rely on.
For more information or if you have additional questions about Dry Eye, visit the Brill Eye Center website here.