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Dry eyes are a serious discomfort for many, sometimes to an extreme degree. It’s a condition usually caused by Meibomian Gland Dysfunction, which means your body isn’t producing enough protective oil for your eyes. It causes itchiness and irritation that keeps coming back throughout the day. Dry Eye Syndrome, as it’s known, is surprisingly common.
That means there is a wealth of knowledge available about the problem and treatments available to reverse the effect. There are also experts available nearby to help restore your eyes to perfect health.
Dry Eye Causes
Let’s address the big question first: why are my eyes dry? It’s all down to your eyes not being lubricated by a sufficient output of tear fluid. Your tears are not just water, but a combination of fatty oils produced by your body, mucus, and water. They coat your eye to avoid particles in the air causing irritation and infection. Every time you blink, trapped particles are washed away by this important fluid.
There are dry eye causes that result in your body not producing the tears you need. These include:
- Damage to the tear glands caused by external factors or medical treatment
- Laser eye surgery (in rare cases, though this is typically not permanent)
- Side effects of some medications
- Vitamin A deficiency
- Several medical conditions ranging from diabetes to rheumatoid arthritis
An interesting fact to note is that dry eye is not necessarily a result of tear ducts not producing enough fluids. This is a multifactorial condition that can be caused by tears evaporating too quickly, or by the tear glands not producing the oil necessary to protect your eyes. For this reason, the exact cause of dry eye pain varies.
Dry Eye Symptoms
The first and most obvious symptom to look out for is a dry feeling in your eyes. Typically this involves stinging, scratching, or even burning sensations in your eyes. This may be accompanied by the following symptoms:
- Light sensitivity and dry eyes at night
- Difficulty seeing clearly in low light
- Overly watery eyes (it may seem counterproductive, but this is a natural response from your body)
- A feeling that “something is in your eyes”
- Redness and inflammation
- Mucus around the eyes
Severe dry eye can even manifest itself as fatigue and blurred vision, as your body tries to respond to the problem.
Dry Eye Risks
Leave your dry eye untreated and you risk developing further complications that may cause damage to your eyes. Dry eye risks include, but are not limited to eye infections and damage to your eye’s surface.
When your eyes aren’t protected by fluid, the risk of developing an infection increases. Infections, in turn, can have terrible effects on the rest of your body and cause a host of other symptoms and conditions. You mustn’t risk it!
Furthermore, friction between your eyelid and the corneal surface can become so irritating and harmful that it actually causes abrasion on the surface of your cornea. This again makes your eye more vulnerable to infection but can also impact your vision and even cause a corneal ulcer.
None of these things are good, but thankfully, they can be prevented through effective dry eye treatment. At the Kraff Eye Institute in Chicago, our doctors are at hand to offer safe and effective treatment.
So what’s the best treatment for dry eyes? There are a few options available to you. Natural remedies for dry eyes can be really effective, but in some instances, only professional treatment will work. Let’s take a look at your options.
Natural Remedies for Dry Eyes
There’s no single dry eyes remedy that works for everyone, but some natural remedies are listed below.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Eat more fish or take omega-3 fatty acid supplements. This is a natural way to improve tear production and ensure your tear ducts produce properly-balanced fluids.
Holding warm compresses over the eyes can help release the oil in your glands. Do this frequently and you’ll prompt your tear ducts, naturally, to produce tears.
This is the most natural way to do it. Make sure you rest your eyes plenty, don’t watch too much TV (especially at night) or engage in prolonged periods of screentime, and take regular breaks if you work on a computer all day.
There are many brands of artificial tears available over the counter and are a good first line treatment in soothing and lubricating dry eyes. They may not be strong enough for more persistent dry eye symptoms, but are certainly worth keeping on hand.
Dry Eye Medication
There are several dry eye medication options.
Drugs can be used to reduce inflammation and allow oil glands to continue functioning normally. Eye Drops are also a common solution.
These prescription drops contain corticosteroids that combat immune responses causing inflammation, and while they are extremely effective, they shouldn’t be used on a long-term basis.
Some drugs, such as Restasis, Xiidra, and Cequa, are specifically designed to increase tear production. These medications come in the form of drops and are administered by the patient at home.
Another way of treating dry eyes is by insertion of a small punctal plug into a patient’s oil gland. The insertion is done in our office by one of our doctors and is quick and easy with no pain or discomfort. Punctal plugs help a patient retain their own natural tears which coat the surface of the cornea. Our office offers both temporary and permanent plugs.
The latest treatment for dry eye syndrome that is causing great excitement due to its effectiveness, is lipiflow.
86% of Dry Eye Syndrome cases can be linked back to Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. This means that the tiny glands inside your eyelids stop producing oil as normal.
Lipiflow treatment is a quick and simple procedure that utilizes a heating and massage process that unblocks the glands and encourages new oil production. It can reverse years of blockages you might not have even known you have, and medical professionals have been impressed by how effective it is.
Other Considerations for Good Eye Health
You should always consider how what you put in your body affects your general health. That includes your eyes!
A combination of staying hydrated and eating healthy food can go a long way in preventing irritation and maintaining healthy eyes and vision.
Remember, your eyes are made up mostly of water! The more you drink, the more fluids your body has to promote cell repair and growth and to flush out invading particles that enter the eye through the air.
Eating plenty of leafy green vegetables and fish will help protect your eyes, also. Consume plenty of omega-3 fatty acids to promote oil production and take vitamin A supplements if you feel you don’t get enough in your diet. This vitamin is essential for keeping your cornea healthy and clear.
Talk to Chicago’s Experts
Want to learn more about lipiflow treatment? Our team of highly experienced ophthalmologists are happy to walk you through the process.
Call today on (312) 444-1111 or make your appointment online and start your journey towards better eye health and relief from dry eyes!