Why Treat Dry Eye and How?
- Posted on: Jan 5 2022
Dr. Stephen Slade recently did an interview for the Refractive Surgery Council about Dry Eye Responses for the Healthy. Below you will find the interview and learn so much about dry eye options!
There has been a huge increase in our knowledge around dry eye and our ability to treat it. We know so much more than we did 10, or even 5 years ago. Today, patients can come in to see their eye doctor specifically to have their dry eye symptoms evaluated and treated, which is important because dry eye isn’t just an annoying symptom. Dry eye can impact the health of the eye as well as visual acuity, so much so we often treat dry eye symptoms and get the condition under control before performing eye surgery. For example, the reduced vision from dry eye – it can be several lines or more on the vision chart – can influence the type of lens and the prescription chosen for cataract surgery. We want your eye to be healthy and able to see well to set up for the best outcome possible.
Dry eye symptoms are a reliable indicator that there is a problem. So are watery eyes. Which sounds strange. If the eyes are dry, why are they watery?
Well tears and the tear film are complex. Tears are a combination of water and lubricants (oils and mucus). If the composite of the tears is out of balance, the body produces more watery tears to try to combat the dry eye sensation.
A thorough examination and a complete medical history are needed to determine the exact origin of the problem, which strongly guides the treatment protocol. With dry eye syndrome, there isn’t a “one size fits all” approach. There are several chronic conditions, i.e. Sjorgen’s Syndrome, as well as routine medications (antihistamines, diuretics) that can contribute to dry eye. In addition, today’s diagnostic capabilities give us the ability to measure so many aspects of the dry eye condition: tear production, osmolality, inflammation, imaging the meibomian ducts (the glands at the lid margins that produce lubricants) and tear film imaging. All of this data can give an eye doctor a good indication of the likely cause of dry eye and the treatments that are likely to address the specific problem(s). There might be a bit of trial and error, but for most people most of the time, they will get a good result from dry eye treatment.
Today’s dry eye treatment options go beyond a simple bottle of artificial tears. There are over-the-counter and prescription drops to help the eye produce more and better quality tears either by reducing inflammation or by helping to balance the composition of the tear film. In addition, serum tear products can be developed from the patient’s own blood. After the blood draw, the blood is centrifuged to remove the blood cells, leaving the clear serum behind. The serum is then diluted for the patient to use as a tear product. Serum tears are very good at restoring the integrity of the tear film, thereby reducing the dry eye symptoms. Fish oil supplements are also known to support better quality tear production.
In office treatments include meibomian gland massage to help unclog the ducts and improve the delivery of lubricants to the tear film. Intense Pulse Light therapy is also an option. These devices help reduce inflammation and stimulate the meibomian gland function. Eye doctors may recommend implanting punctal plugs into tear ducts to help hold tears longer on the surface of the eye.
Invasive surgical treatments for dry eye are much less common as most of these non-surgical options are effective at treating causes and managing symptoms. The good news is that these dry eye treatment options have a very low risk profile. However, these pharmaceutical and therapeutic options can be moderately expensive and somewhat inconvenient. Some of the drops can burn or sting a bit. The therapeutic devices require in-office visits.
For all your options in dry eye treatments in Houston, please feel free to call us at our office Monday-Friday at 713-626-5544 or send us an inquiry anytime if you have questions or to schedule an appointment with any of our dry eye specialists at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to helping you achieve optimal results for any of eye procedures and to help get rid of your dry eye!