Everyone occasionally gets itchy or scratchy eyes, especially if you live in a dry climate like Las Vegas, Nevada. However, if you experience this problem frequently or over a long period, you may have a common disorder known as dry eye syndrome. Dry eye syndrome occurs when your eyes don’t produce the correct amount of tears they need to stay lubricated. Fortunately, Wellish Vision Institute provides effective, and safe dry eye treatment that can restore your comfort.
Understanding Dry Eye Disease
If you suffer from chronically dry eyes, you’re not alone. Experts estimate that around 20 million Americans have this condition. As the name implies, dry eye is a condition that affects the production of tears.
In healthy eyes, the lacrimal glands continually generate a mixture of salt, mucus, and water. As you blink, this fluid spreads across your eyes and mixes with oil from the meibomian glands lining the eyelids. Together, these fluids form tears that keep the eyes lubricated and moist.
However, dry eye disease occurs when this process gets disrupted in one of two ways:
- Inadequate Tear Production: The lacrimal glands don’t secrete enough aqueous tears to keep the eyes lubricated.
- Tear Evaporation: The meibomian glands get clogged and produce a lower quantity or quality of oil. As a result, the tears evaporate too quickly to moisturize the eyes.
A knowledgeable eye doctor like Dr. Kent Wellish can determine which type of dry eye disease you have and develop an appropriate treatment plan.
Signs and Symptoms of Dry Eye
People with dry eye disease often feel like grains of sand or other foreign bodies are stuck in their eyes. Other dry eye symptoms include:
- Burning, scratching, or stinging eyes
- Redness in the eyes
- Blurry vision
- Light sensitivity
- Mucus leaking from the eyes
- Discomfort when wearing contact lenses
- Increased sensitivity to environmental irritants, such as pollen or smoke
- Eye fatigue when reading or looking at digital screens
Ironically, many people with dry eye syndrome also experience increased tear production and watery eyes. This symptom occurs because the lacrimal glands go into overdrive to compensate for excessive tear evaporation.
Causes of Dry Eye
Dry eye disease has been linked to many risk factors, including:
- Aging: Tear production naturally declines as you age. As a result, adults over 65 years are more likely to develop this condition.
- Climate: A dry or windy environment accelerates tear evaporation, which can lead to dry eye syndrome.
- Contact Lenses: Soft contact lenses absorb moisture and restrict oxygen flow to the eye, which can cause or aggravate dry eye.
- Eye Surgery: People who undergo cataract surgery, cornea surgery, and LASIK vision correction may be more likely to develop dry eye.
- Health Conditions: People with diabetes, Graves’ disease, irritable bowel syndrome, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjogren’s syndrome frequently develop dry eye disease.
- Hormonal Changes in Women: Pregnancy, menopause, and oral contraceptives can affect women’s estrogen and progesterone levels. These changes may disrupt the production of oil by the meibomian glands, increasing the risk of dry eyes.
- Medications: Prescription medications can cause dry eye, including certain anticholinergics, antidepressants, antihistamines, beta-blockers, hormone replacement therapies, and pain relievers.
- Screen Time: People blink less when gazing at digital screens, such as computer monitors and smartphones. Excessive exposure to screens causes tears to evaporate more rapidly, contributing to dry eye syndrome.
- Sleep Quality: Lack of sleep and common sleep disorders like insomnia have been associated with dry eye.
- Smoking: Cigarette smoke contains harmful chemicals that irritate and dry out the eyes. Studies suggest that smokers may be twice as likely to develop dry eye disease as non-smokers.
An expert eye doctor can pinpoint factors that may cause or exacerbate your dry eyes.
Complications of Dry Eye Syndrome
If left untreated, dry eye syndrome can negatively affect your overall eye health and vision. Tears play a vital role in protecting the eye from bacteria, dirt, and other contaminants. Thus, inadequate tear production increases the risk of eye infection and damage to the eye’s surface.
Dry eye syndrome can also cause blurriness or double vision. These symptoms can worsen over time, making it difficult to perform everyday tasks like driving and reading.
Additionally, people with dry eye disease may not be able to tolerate contact lenses and need to switch to prescription glasses.
Diagnosis & Treatment
Diagnosing Dry Eye
Dry eye disease is notoriously difficult to diagnose, so it’s best to consult an experienced eye doctor at a leading clinic like Wellish Vision Institute. You’ll receive a comprehensive eye exam, which may include:
- Schirmer’s Test: The eye doctor evaluates tear production by placing a tiny piece of filter paper inside the lower eyelid for five minutes. Next, the provider removes the strip and measures the amount of moisture on the paper.
- Slit Lamp Test: The provider dilates the eyes with special drops and studies them with a bright light and microscope. This test allows them to examine the amount of tears your eyes produce visually.
- Tear Film Breakup Time: The provider adds a small amount of fluorescein dye to the eye and uses a microscope to observe how long it takes for dry spots to appear in the tear film. The rapid development of dry areas can indicate dry eye syndrome.
Treating Dry Eyes
Eye specialists have developed many cutting-edge treatments for dry eye disease that can relieve your discomfort and protect your vision. Here are four FDA-approved treatments offered by Wellish Vision Institute:
- Autologous Serum Eye Drops: This treatment combines your blood, plasma, and serum to create customized eye drops. These drops mimic your natural tears more closely than artificial tears and have anti-inflammatory properties that can improve dry eye.
- Intense Pulse Light (IPL): The provider uses intense pulsed light at specific wavelengths to open up the meibomian glands and restore normal production of lipid oils. Patients typically need at least four IPL treatments at two- to four-week intervals for optimal results.
- LipiFlow: The LipiFlow Thermal Pulsation System applies gentle pressure, pulsations, and warmth to the inside of the eyelids. This warm massage unlocks the meibomian glands and frees oils, relieving dry eye symptoms. Many eye doctors recommend repeating LipiFlow every 6 to 12 months as needed.
- PROKERA: This treatment involves placing a PROKERA biotic bandage on the cornea. The bandage has an amniotic membrane tissue that heals the eye’s surface and reduces or eliminates symptoms of dry eye.
Your eye doctor will determine the best treatment plan based on the severity of your dry eye, the underlying causes of the condition, and other factors.
Preventing Dry Eye
If you are suffering from dry eye symptoms, contact us today at 702-733-2020 to schedule an eye exam and learn about your options for relief for DRY EYE.
Here are common questions patients ask about dry eye syndrome:
Can you wear contact lenses with dry eyes?
Many people who develop dry eye syndrome can still wear contact lenses. However, your eye doctor may recommend using daily contact lenses or certain brands that are less likely to aggravate dry eye.
Who is the best doctor for dry eyes?
Dry eyes can be challenging to diagnose and manage, so it’s best to see an ophthalmologist who has extensive experience treating this condition. Dr. Wellish and his team of top specialists at Wellish Vision Institute have provided the latest treatments for dry eye syndrome for thirty years.
Can dry eye heal on its own?
Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition that doesn’t go away on its own. Consulting an eye doctor and following their recommended treatment plan is the best way to manage this common disorder.
What is the new eye procedure for dry eyes?
LipiFlow is one of the newest treatments for dry eyes. Research suggests that around 80% of patients see improvement within one month of this procedure.
What is the best-known treatment for dry eyes?
People often use over-the-counter artificial tears to treat mild cases of dry eye syndrome. However, many people require stronger treatments to relieve symptoms.
Is dry eye ever cured?
Researchers haven’t yet discovered a permanent cure for dry eye disease. However, lifestyle changes and medical treatments can alleviate your symptoms and reduce the risk of long-term eye and vision damage.