Dry Eye Syndrome
Red and itchy eyes are irritating and can distract you from enjoying your life. With the stinging and burning sensations, it is hard to take pleasure in enjoying the sights around you, let alone want to keep your eyes open.
At Cornea Consultants of Albany, we want all of our patients to live comfortably, free of dry and painful eyes, which is why we are dedicated to treating dry eye syndrome.
Dry Eye Symptoms
Dry eye syndrome can be debilitating and make life hard to enjoy. Signs and symptoms include:
- A stinging, burning or scratchy sensation in your eyes
- Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
- Watery eyes, which is the body's response to the irritation of dry eyes
- Blurred vision or eye fatigue
- Sensitivity to light
- Eye redness
- A sensation of having something in your eyes
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
- Difficulty with nighttime driving
Dry Eye Causes
Dry and bothered eyes can be caused by a number of things: allergies, prolonged contact use and straining your eyes. But dry eyes can also be caused by dry eye syndrome, which is a condition caused by an insufficient amount of tears that lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are a necessary part of maintaining healthy eyes. Besides providing lubrication and nourishment, tears also keep the eyes clean and essentially wash the cornea (the surface of the eye), keeping it clear. This is a common and chronic condition for older adults.
Other causes include the following:
- One of the primary causes of dry eye is age. Simply due to the natural aging process, it is typical for people over the age of 65 to experience many of the symptoms of dye eyes.
- Gender can also be a factor. Because of hormonal changes involved with pregnancy, oral contraceptives, and menopause, women are more likely to suffer from dry eyes.
- Medicines like antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications and antidepressants can all inhibit tear production in the eyes and cause dry eye.
- Along with medications, certain medical conditions can increase the likelihood that you will experience the symptoms of dry eye. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes or thyroid problems, you are more at risk of dry eye.
- Inflammation of the eyelids and the surfaces of the eye can also increase the risks of getting dry eye, as well as the inward or outward turning of your eyelids.
- Many environmental conditions can also lead to the development of dry eye. Exposure to smoke, wind, and any dry climates can evaporate your tears, drying out your tears.
- We live surrounded by screens. Failing to blink often, especially when staring at a computer screen or watching TV, can also dry out your eyes. Oftentimes, treatment for other eye conditions can unfortunately lead to dry eye. The long-term use of contact lenses and receiving refractive eye surgeries like LASIK can limit tear production.
Dry Eye Treatment Options
At-Home Dry Eye Relief
There are even things you can do at home to relieve some of the symptoms of dry eye. A humidifier in rooms you use often can greatly reduce the dryness you feel in your eye, as can wearing glasses that wrap around the edges of your eyes to protect them from windy environments.
To truly make your eye comfortable again and free of the painful symptoms of dry eye syndrome, we typically treat your eyes with artificial tears. These artificial tears are able to re-lubricate the eye to bring you relief from the dryness.
Temporarily or Permanently Closing the Tear Drain
In the most severe cases, we may temporarily or permanently close the tear drain to try and rebalance the amount of tears your eye produces. In these cases, a simple surgery is performed where a tiny silicon plug is placed into the tear drain. If the silicone plugs have a positive effect, then a more permanent plug can replace it, ideally making your eyes permanently comfortable.
In the treatment of dry eye, our physicians may use LipiView Ocular Surface Interferometer, which is an ophthalmic imaging device that captures and stores digital images of your tear film. LipiView helps us measure the thickness of your tear film lipid layer and helps us to evaluate the proper tear therapy you may benefit from. This procedure takes just a few minutes and requires you to simply look into a camera and blink normally. A special camera and computer program will capture the rest.
Another treatment option for dry eye is the LipiFlow system, a localized heat and pressure therapy. Many longtime sufferers of dry eye use medications and hot compresses to treat their condition. LipiFlow uses a single-use eyepiece to relieve blockage of the meibomian glands. You may liken it to a “hot stone massage” for your eye lids. This controlled heat and massage allows your blocked glands to open.
Our physicians may also recommend PROKERA, a biological corneal bandage device, to treat dry eye, reduce inflammation and promote regenerative healing.
Research and FDA Trials
At Cornea Consultants of Albany, we are constantly researching newer and even better ways to treat eye conditions like dry eye syndrome. We participated in the FDA trials that ultimately led to the approval of the prescription strength eye drop, Restasis. Restasis can actually help your body to create more of its own tears, instead of just relying on artificial tears. There are even some cases in which we can use components from the natural serum in your own eye to ensure there is enough lubrication. We stay at the front of our field in research and treatments so that our patients have the healthiest eyes possible.
Schedule An Appointment Today
Dry eye syndrome can be an extremely uncomfortable condition that can inhibit your quality of life, so we aim to eliminate your symptoms of dry eye and alleviate your discomfort. Let us help you take care of your eyes so that you can enjoy the most important of senses. If you are experienceing dry eye symptoms, call us today at 518-475-1515.