Dry eye is one of the most common eye conditions, yet the symptoms are often overlooked, with sufferers failing to realize that they are actually experiencing a problem that can be rectified with the right treatment. Dry eyes will affect most of us at some stage during our lifetime, so knowing how to identify it and what treatment is available can help us to avoid experiencing ongoing symptoms unnecessarily.
The most common symptoms of dry eye include:
A dry, gritty feeling in the eyes
Sensitivity to light
Irritation, burning, and soreness
Problems wearing contact lenses
Feeling as though you have something in your eyes
Difficulty driving at night
Stringy mucus around the eyes
If you suspect that you may be suffering from dry eyes, your eye doctor will perform testing to confirm a diagnosis. They will also exam your eyes, paying particular attention to your eyelids and the surface of your eyes.
There are numerous different tests that can be used to confirm your diagnosis of dry eye, and that may indicate to your eye doctor what is causing the condition. This is important if they are to recommend the most effective treatment. For example, the dry eye that is caused by an improper balance in the components that make up healthy tear film won’t be effectively treated by using a solution that’s designed to prevent tear film from draining too quickly.
Some of the tests that you may be given could include:
A test to measure the volume of your tears, so that your eye doctor can see how many are being produced. This test is sometimes known as the Schirmer test.
A test that will determine the quality of your tears, which will help to see if there are any irregularities in the balance of oils, water, and proteins that form healthy tear film.
A test to see how quickly your tear film evaporates from the surface of your eyes.
The results of testing will be used to determine which course of treatment your eye doctor recommends for you.
As we know, there are various different treatments for dry eye, and which you will be recommended will be predominantly decided by what your eye doctor believes is the underlying cause of your condition. Some of the most common and effective treatments include:
Artificial tears. As their name states, these eye drops are designed to replicate natural tear film, and can usually be used as often as you need to. If you need to use them more than six times per day, or if they start to irritate your eyes, switch to a variety that is preservative-free.
Medicated eyedrops. These eye drops contain medications such as anti-inflammatories which help to treat issues that may be contributing towards your dry eyes, such as blepharitis. You may also be recommended to try a type of drug called a cholinergic, which help to increase tear production. These are available as pills, gel, or eye drops.
Eye inserts. These are recommended for people with moderate to severe dry eye and for whom other topical medications are unhelpful. These inserts are placed between the lower eyelid and eye and slowly dissolve, releasing a substance that will lubricate your eyes.
LipiFlow. LipiFlow is a thermal pulsation device that combines heat and massage to liquefy and release any blockages in the glands responsible for tear film production. This procedure is performed in-office, is painless and non-invasive.
IPL. IPL or intense pulsed light therapy followed by massaging your eyelids manually has been proven to help reduce and even eliminate the symptoms of dry eye.
Punctal plugs. These tiny devices are placed into the drainage channels of the eye to prevent tear film from draining away too quickly.
If you would like to find out more about dry eye testing and treatment, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment with our experienced and knowledgeable team in Silverthorne, CO.