Your Complete Guide to Severe Dry Eye Treatment Options
If you suffer from dry eye you know it isn’t a laughing matter. Dry eye ranges from mild discomfort to more serious symptoms like vision disruption and headaches. Fortunately, mild to severe dry eye treatment options may help relieve your symptoms.
About Dry Eye
Normally, tears keep your eyes lubricated and moist. When your eyes cannot produce enough tears or produce poor quality tears then you suffer from dry eye.
Sometimes dry eye is situational. For example, your eyes may feel dry out in the wind or while staring at your computer in an air-conditioned office. Other times, it is persistent.
Dry eye is a common concern that ranges from mild discomfort to more severe vision issues. Here are some of the symptoms associated with dry eye disease:
- Red eyes
- Itchy eyes
- The sensation that a foreign-body is in the eyes
- Blurred vision and eye fatigue
- Sensitivity to light and glare
- Excessive tearing
- Decreased ability to wear contact lenses
If you experience these symptoms, talk with your eye care professional. Diagnosis starts with a comprehensive exam.
Layers of tears bathe the front of your eyes to keep them moist and healthy. The layers include an oily layer, a watery (or aqueous) layer, and a mucus layer. The appropriate treatment varies depending which of these layers are compromised.
Dry Eye Syndrome Diagnosis
Sometimes your optometrist may give a diagnosis based on your symptoms. However, there are a range of testing options including:
- Dye testing
- Tear Break-up time
- Tear Film Osmolarity
- Ocular surface matrix metalloproteinase 9 (MMP-9)
- Imaging of the Meibomian glands
Your doctor will help you choose the right treatment option once you have a diagnosis.
Mild to Severe Dry Eye Treatment Options
Your symptoms may be classified as mild, moderate, or severe. Depending on the cause of your dry eye, there are a range of treatment options available.
Piedmont EyeCare Associates offers LipiFlow treatments.
LipiFlow may help if your eye’s oil gland is blocked or not functioning well. The treatment uses heat-targeted pulsating heat to massage oil glands and stimulate oil production. LipiFlow commonly treats Evaporative Dry Eye which is caused by a Meibomian Gland Dysfunction.
TrueTear is an FDA-approved Neurostimulator device. It stimulates the tear production, it may offer temporary relief if the issue is inadequate tear production. The patient uses the device at home after a qualified eye care professional prescribes it and trains the patient to use the device correctly. TrueTear may help in situations where your eyes do not produce enough tears.
Ask our doctors about other in-office treatments that are available.
Nutrition and nutritional supplements can sometimes help alleviate the symptoms of dry eye.
For example, essential fatty acids like those found in fish oils sometimes help. These supplements also offer a range of other health benefits similar to the benefits of eating oily fish. See our eye care supplements page for more information on the supplements that Piedmont EyeCare Associates carry.
At-Home Severe Dry Eye Treatment Options
Some patients find relief from at-home treatment options. Sometimes this is all the patient’s need and other times home treatment may be a supplement to medical treatment.
Sometimes prescription or over the counter eye drops help relieve mild dry eye especially if it is situational. Artificial tears are rated by their viscosity from light to high. Check with your eye doctor if you wear contact lenses to make sure you choose a product appropriate for your type of lenses.
Sometimes your eye doctor may prescribe medication such as eye drops that treat inflammation or other issues that may cause or contribute to dry eye. Always follow treatment instructions for your best possible results.
Some patients benefit from using warm compresses to unblock clogged Meibomian glands. The 108-degree Fahrenheit compresses are applied twice a day for ten minutes. Seek guidance from your doctor to learn the correct method and to make sure these severe dry eye treatment options doesn’t contraindicate your other treatments.
Living an Eye-Healthy Lifestyle
Living an eye-healthy lifestyle also fits within home care, but most of these tips help with other aspects of your eyes’ health in addition to dry eye.
Blink training can help when the patient simply doesn’t blink often enough. This can happen when concentrating on visual tasks like writing at the computer, design work, or even working on smaller craft or manufacturing projects. Sometimes it is as simple as prompting yourself to take frequent blink breaks and other times blink training involves a series of blinking exercises.
Sometimes eyelid cleaning helps by removing dirt, makeup, and bacteria that can contribute to dry eye. Basically, you apply a warm, moist washcloth to your closed lids for approximately one minute. Next, gently scrub your eyelids and eyelashes with a mild cleanser like diluted baby shampoo. You may also use the pre-moistened eyelid wipes that are frequently sold in drugstores.
When working at a computer, take frequent breaks since many people do not blink often enough while concentrating. Try to take a ten-minute break every hour. Look away from your computer at something that is not digital and is at least ten feet away.
Outdoor recreation and work may also contribute to dry eye especially if it is windy. Wear high-quality sunglasses that offer UV protection. This helps protect your eyes from the wind and it also helps prevent other potentially serious eye health issues caused by UV exposure.
Finally, take a break from wearing contact lenses when your eyes feel dry. With so many fashionable eyeglass options you can vary your look between stylish eyeglasses and contact lenses. This may help if your dry eye is simply caused by contact lens wearing.
Severe Dry Eye Treatment Options at Piedmont EyeCare
Whatever the cause, the first step to effective dry eye treatment is to visit your optometrist or eye care professional. A comprehensive eye exam is essential for early diagnosis and treatment.
Piedmont EyeCare Associates serve the Charlotte area. If you live near Charlotte, contact us to schedule an appointment. We are the areas dry eye treatment center.