Dry eye is a condition that develops when you don’t have enough natural tears to make a healthy tear film. Your tear film coats the front part of your eye, allowing you to see clearly.
Here at the High Desert Institute of Ophthalmology, we can help diagnose what form of dry eye you have and tailor a regimen to help alleviate your symptoms and get you seeing better.
What are the symptoms of dry eye?
People with dry eye can develop many symptoms such as:
- Graininess in your eyes
- Red eyes
- Eye pain or discomfort
- Light sensitivity
- Blurry vision
Patients with dry eyes often also experience significant tearing because our bodies try to over compensate for our dryness; however, these tears lack the oil and fat components that give our tears lasting strength and instead our eyes make water-based reflexive tears that tend to run out of the eye.
Why do I have dry eye?
There are a number of different reasons people develop dry eyes:
- Living in dry, hot areas
- Excess use of phones or tablets
- Contact lens wear
- Eyelid inflammation
- Abnormal eyelid position
How is dry eye treated?
The treatment for dry eye depends on how severe your symptoms are. Treatments range from simple life style changes and over-the-counter drops to prescription drops and interventions.
The more conservative dry eye treatments include warm compresses and lid scrubs to help your eyes make a stronger tear film. Artificial tears solutions can be used to replace your natural tears. Dietary supplements, especially omega-3 fatty acids, may also help you make more natural tears. Occasionally, prescription drops can help with certain forms of inflammatory dry eyes.
Sometimes, conservative treatments don’t work for long-term dry eye relief. In that case, small silicone plugs can be placed in the tear ducts that drain your tears. By blocking your tear ducts with a punctal plug, your eyes will have a larger tear film to prevent it from drying out.
If punctal plugs irritate your eyes or do not work for you, a small procedure to permanently close your tear ducts with thermal cautery may be recommended.