Dry eye syndrome is a fairly common condition experienced by millions of Americans. Causes of this condition vary from environmental exposure, autoimmune disorders, decreased tear production, lowered blink rate, fluctuating hormone levels, and certain medication usage. Common medications that can affect your dryness levels include antihistamines and antidepressants. Although the causes of dry eye vary, those suffering from this condition tend to have similar symptoms.
Common dry eye symptoms:
- A sensation of burning or stinging
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
- Excessive tearing in the eyes
- Mucus in or around the eyes
- The eyes appear red and are irritated
A healthy tear film is essential to combat irritating dry eye symptoms, A normal tear film consists of a balanced external oily layer, middle watery layer, and inner mucus layer. All three layers work together in maintaining stable vision by washing away debris, keeping the ocular surface functioning properly and lubricated. Any disruption to these layers can lead to a rise in dryness symptoms, and distorted vision.
At Ticho Eye Associates, our doctors on staff will evaluate the tear film and will devise the best treatment plan for you. A common way we assess the tear film is by using a slit-lamp microscope, which provides a high magnification view of the ocular surface.
Another advanced diagnostic device known as the Tear Lab Osmolarity System monitors the severity of dry eye disease by checking the osmolarity (salt) level of a tiny sample of a patient’s tears. High tear osmolarity is a frequent sign of associated cell damage and dry eye symptoms.
Common treatment options for dry eye disease include:
- Eye drops. Over-the-counter lubricating drops are often a simple solution for dry eye symptoms. If these drops are not sufficient, medicated drops are then prescribed.
- Punctal Plugs. Your doctor can insert a small punctal plug into your tear duct to increase the number of tears and moisture on your ocular surface. This is a quick and comfortable solution.
- Dietary Supplements. Omega 3 fatty acids are known to help decrease dry eye symptoms. These supplements are usually taken in conjunction with artificial tears.
Blepharitis is often confused with dry eyes, as the symptoms tend to be very similar and many patients have both conditions. Blepharitis occurs when inflammation is present due to clogged oil glands located on the eyelid margins, whereas Dry Eye Syndrome results in an unstable tear film. Blepharitis tends to be chronic and varying in intensity, but it is not contagious. Complications may include infections, styes (chalazion), eyelash problems, and corneal injuries. Common symptoms include swollen, itchy, red, sticky, and crusty eyes.
At Ticho Eye Associates, we offer treatment including the use of lid wipes to maintain good eyelid hygiene. With more advanced cases, your doctor can express the oil glands, helping to relieve the eyelid inflammation. We are one of only a few local practices to offer Intense Pulsed Light therapy, an innovative approach to blepharitis.