State of the Art Treatments for Dry Eye
If your eyes sting, look red, burn, or look red – as if sand is stuck in them – you may be suffering from dry eye. This condition may occur when the tiny glands in and around your eyelids do not produce enough tears to keep your peepers healthy and vision clear.
When tears do their job well, they keep the surface of your eye smooth, hydrated, and comfy, as well as thoroughly wash away debris and protect it from infection. Healthy eyes are able to make tears all day, every day, to stay adequately moist.
But sometimes, medications, diseases, or just plain old ageing can cause your eyes to produce fewer tears. Dry eye can also happen when your eyes don’t make the right kind of tears to clear out particles or keep the surface well lubricated.
In some severe cases, your doctor may need to treat the underlying condition or disease by prescribing special medications to help your eyes make more of their own tears. Schedule an eye exam if you believe this to be the case.
In the meantime, here are some innovative treatments to relieve your dry eyes.
Your tears are composed of water, oil, and mucus. Your eyes depend on all three of these components to stay healthy and happy. Inflamed or flaky eyes may clog the oil-producing glands that are located along the edges of your eyelids and cause dry eye.
To help loosen those pesky flakes, soak a clean washcloth with warm water, thoroughly ring it out, and place it over your closed eyes for at least a minute.
Gently press the edges of your lid with your finger to squeeze out the clogged oils. The moist heat from the warm, wet cloth will help to loosen the clogged glands.
For mild cases of dry eye, often caused by reading or computer usage, the best treatment may simply be using artificial tears to lubricate the eye.
There are numerous brands of artificial tears that are available on the market without needing a prescription. The challenge of using artificial tears is not the lack of products available, but the confusing number of brands and formulas available to select from.
The brands with low viscosity are watery and light. They can provide quick relief with little to no blurring of your vision when applied. But the soothing effects are short-lived.
Artificial tears that have a high viscosity are more gel-like and can provide long-lasting relief. But they can also cause significant blurring of your vision for up to several minutes after being applied. For this reason, don’t use these eye drops during your workday or when you need to drive.
Additionally, some ingredients found in certain brands of artificial tears may determine which kind of dry eye conditions they are better suited for. For example, one type may work more effectively for aqueous-deficiency dry eyes, while a different brand may be better suited for evaporative dry eyes.
Wash Your Eye
Cleaning out your eyelids, as well as the surrounding hair and skin, can aid in getting rid of lid inflammation. Drop a tad of baby shampoo or mild soap onto your fingertip and then gently massage it into your closed eye, near the eyelash base.
Instead of over-the-counter artificial tears, your eye doctor may recommend the daily usage of a prescription eye drop called Restasis for dry eye treatment.
This medication does far more than simply lubricating the eye’s surface. It contains an agent that reduces inflammation and helps your body to naturally produce more tears.
It’s critical to know that the therapeutic effects of this medication is not immediate. You need to use the drops daily for at least 90 days to experience the full benefits.
Consume Naturally Oily Fish
Tuna, salmon, sardines, trout, and mackerel all contain omega-3 fatty acids. Studies suggest that these healthy fats help the oil-producing glands in your eyes work better, which can greatly alleviate irritation.
Other foods that are naturally high in omega-3 fats include vegetable oil, such as soybean or canola oil, walnuts, and flaxseed.
Drink Your Water
Every aspect of your body thrives on water, including your eyes. Drink water to help keep them moist.
But don’t wait until you’re feeling thirsty to sip. Aim to drink eight to 10 glasses of water throughout the day.
Steroid Eye Drops
The inflammation associated with dry eye can cause redness and burning sensations.
Artificial tears do not effectively address these inflammatory issues. Your eye doctor may recommend steroid eye drops to better manage the underlying inflammation problem associated with dry eyes.
Steroid eye drops are typically used for the short-term to solve symptoms. They are often used in conjunction with artificial tears.
Wear Wrap-Around Sunglasses
This style of eyewear can help to protect your eyes from drying winds, which cause tears to quickly evaporate. At home, avoid blowing air from your air conditioner, fan, or hair dryer toward your eyes.
Use a Humidifier and/or Air Purifier
This can add moisture to a dry indoor environment. Putting a pan of water next to your heater also has the same effect.
An air purifier that filtrates the air will remove particles from the air and help prevent dry eyes.
These are sometimes used in dry eye treatment to help tears remain on the surface of the eye longer.
A punctal plug is a small, sterilized device that is inserted into one of the small openings, known as puncta or tear drainage ducts, that are located in the inner corners of the upper and lower eyelids.
After the openings have been plugged, tears cannot drain away from the eye into the ducts and stay intact longer on the surface of your eye.
If you suffer from dry eye, it is important to try one of these treatments or schedule an appointment with your eye doctor for solutions.