Dry Eye Disease Diagnosis and Treatment
What is Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome (or just “dry eyes”) is caused by a lack of moisture on the surface of your eyes which helps lubricate your eyelids as they move over the eyeball. It causes eye irritation, and in some sever case, inflammation of the eye.
Dry eyes are especially common in adults over the age of 40, and is a major reason why people visit Dr. Sheiner for an eye exam. Dry eyes affect women more than men.
If you experience one or any combination of the following symptoms, you may be suffering from dry eye:
- Burning and stinging
- Gritty feeling when there is nothing in your eye
- Sensitivity to bright lights
- Mucous secretions in the eye
- Achy or tired feeling in your eyes
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What causes Dry Eyes?
There are many possible causes of dry eye. The most common include:
Common medication such as decongestants, antihistamines, diuretics, beta-blockers, sleeping pills, anti-depressants, pain relievers, and alcohol can cause decreased in tear secretion. Frequent use of preserved eye drops or artificial tears can also aggravate dry eye conditions.
Just about everywhere you turn in this world, you run into something that can dry out your eyes. These include sunny, windy, dry conditions; heaters, dehumidifiers, fans or air conditioners, high altitudes; smoke or air pollution, sand, dust, or airborne pollen. The list is virtually endless.
The Aging Process
As we grow older, our eyes produce fewer lubricating tears. A condition associated with arthritis, known as Sjogren’s syndrome, can also dry out the mouth and eyes.
Menopause and Pregnancy
While men and women of any age can be affected, women are more prone to develop dry eyes after menopause and during pregnancy.
Dry eye is a major cause of contact lens discomfort. The reason is simple. Wearing lenses frequently causes an increase in tear evaporation which leads to irritation, increased protein deposits, infection, and pain.
Diagnosing Dry Eye Syndrome
Dr. Sheiner may use a combination of several methods to determine whether you have Dry Eye.
A few drops containing dye in each eye will help your doctor to check for any dry spots.
Color Bar Schirmer Test
This simple, painless test assesses tear volume. By placing the tip of a specially treated strip of paper in the lower lid of your eye, Dr. Sheiner is able to measure the amount of tears your eye produces in a five minute period.
How do you Cure Dry Eyes?
While dry eyes may not be 100% curable, there are many options that we have to make your eyes more comfortable.
Temporary Closing of Tear Ducts
In this method, Dr. Sheiner will insert small dissolvable collagen plugs into your tear ducts to prevent tear drainage and allow tears to build up and bathe the eyes. Collagen plugs dissolve in just a few days. If you get relief from your symptoms during the test period, Dr. Sheiner may recommend permanent closure of your tear ducts with long-term plugs.
Short-Term Relief with Artificial Tears
For patients with less severe dry eye symptoms, artificial tears can often offer immediate relief. Unfortunately, this remedy is usually temporary. While artificial tears may soothe the eyes initially, they can increase the possibility of infection by washing away the natural infection-fighting tear film of the eye. This is why patients with more severe cases of dry eye may benefit from having their tear ducts permanently closed. This long-term solution allows patients to use their own natural tears to treat their condition.
Long-Term Relief with Punctal Plugs
There is a simple non-surgical procedure that provides long-term relief of Dry Eye that involves the use of permanent, yet removable plugs called punctal plugs.
There are a number of reasons why punctal plugs have become the most popular method of treating dry eye. They have a very high rate of success; and they can be inserted easily and painlessly by Dr. Sheiner. They are also reversible if too much tearing is produced. The idea behind punctal plugs is simple. Tiny, non-dissolvable plugs are inserted into you tear drainage ducts (puncta) where they act as a dam. Therefore your precious tears have no place to go but onto the surface of your eyes.
Call our office at (561) 391-3334 or…