Dry eye disease is a very common condition. The eyes rely on the tear film to ensure adequate lubrication for good vision, comfort, andn ourishment. Tearsarea combination of water, oils, mucus, and special proteins and antibodies. These components are secreted by several glands around the eyes and eyelids. Dry eye disease is caused by inflammation or an imbalance in tear production and drainage. Poor quality tears will lead to tears evaporating too quickly and will cause dry eye symptoms. Severe dry eye can damage the cornea and cause vision impairment.
When tears fail to lubricate the eyes properly, it can lead to various symptoms, including:
Pain or irritation
Sandy or gritty feeling
Feeling like something is in your eye
Excess watering or tearing
Many people experience dry eyes in situations such as air conditioned rooms, on airplanes, when using computers, or in windy and dry climates.
There are many reasons why eyes become dry. As we age, we tend to produce less tears. Women often experience more dry eye symptoms than men due to hormonal changes. Certain systemic conditions, such as Sjogren’s syndrome, thyroid disease, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis can cause dry eyes. Medications that are used for allergies, birth control, high blood pressure, and depression can reduce tear production. Misuse of cosmetics and contact lenses have been shown to contribute to dry eye disease.
If your doctor sees signs of dry eyes at your routine exam, they may ask you to return for a dry eye evaluation. At this exam, they will measure tear production, tear evaporation time, meibomian gland health, and more. These tests will help determine which form of treatment is right for you.
Managing dry eye disease is often a life-long treatment which focuses on normalizing the tear film and relieving symptoms. If you have aqueous deficiency, or aren’t producing enough tears, your doctor may recommend artificial tear drops, gels, or ointments to supplement the lack of tears. Prescription eye drops can help patients produce more of their own tears and reduce inflammation. Warm compresses, eyelid hygiene, and omega-3 fatty acid nutritional supplements are beneficial for a healthy tear film. Small devices, called punctal plugs, can be inserted into the puncta, which is the drainage port for the tears. Punctal plugs prevent the tears from draining too quickly allowing them to nourish the eye for longer.
O’Rourke Vision Care offers one of the latest treatments for dry eye disease: OptiLight Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Therapy combined with MiBoThermoflo. OptiLight IPL and MiBoThermoflo work together to treat meibomian gland dysfunction, which is the leading cause of dry eye disease. OptiLight IPL uses light energy while MiBoThermoflo uses thermal energy to penetrate the eyelids and improve the health of the meibomian glands. These treatments have improved patients' quality of life and reduced their dependence on eye drops.
For more information about treating and managing dry eye disease, visit O’Rourke Vision Care at our Pleasant Hills office. Call 412-725-2020 to schedule an appointment today.