The eye doctors at The Eye Clinic of Texas provide examination, diagnosis and treatment of dry eyes and dry eye problems for patients who suffer from dry eye symptoms and can offer help for dry eyes. Dry eyes can have a significant impact on our daily activities including reading, driving, working and even watching television. When most people think about having dry eyes, they mainly think about the common symptoms that cause discomfort such as dryness, grittiness or burning.
Dry Eye is an eye condition in which there is a deficiency of the tear film that is due to either an inadequate production of one’s own natural tears or an excessive evaporation of tears.
A number of systemic conditions such as Sjorgren’s Syndrome or autoimmune connective tissue diseases such as Rheumatoid Arthritis and Lupus Erythematosis may decrease the quantity of tears that you produce. Inflammation of the Lacrimal Gland will also cause patients to produce too few tears to maintain a normal and healthy tear film as well as long term contact lens wear, past eye infections, certain allergies and even vitamin deficiencies. Many environmental factors such as being exposed to forced hot air heat at home or at work, dry climates in general, air travel, reduced blinking from contact lens wear, looking at a computer screen or reading for long periods of time, air pollution or even just blowing your hair dry can cause too much tear evaporation. Your tears may evaporate too quickly if you suffer from low-grade eyelid inflammation, called blepharitis. Within your eyelids are tiny tubular glands called Meibomian Glands. Any inflammation of the eyelids, such as from blepharitis or a condition called Ocular Rosacea can cause the Meibomian Glands to stop secreting their oily film. This oily film is required as an outer layer of the tear film to prevent evaporation. Without the oily layer being present, it is very likely that you will experience a rapid evaporation of tears and symptoms of dry eyes.
If you have mild or even moderate dry eyes, the first course of treatment may be to use unpreserved artificial tears. The selection of the exact type of artificial tear eye drop is important and we may have you use a specific type of artificial tear that has different characteristics in terms of salt content and viscosity. Follow these instructions carefully.
Sometimes, if the oily layer of the tear film is deficient, we may suggest that you increase your consumption of oily fish or even take flax seed oil as a dietary supplement. Most likely you will be asked to drink plenty of water. In instances where these approaches do not help relieve your dry eye symptoms, we may suggest the insertion of tiny punctal plugs that will slow down or even stop the drainage of tears from the eye. These plugs are easily and comfortably placed in the Lacrimal Puncta in your eyelids. Often, the prescription of Restasis® or Xiidra® eye drops with or without the other treatments can often help alleviate your symptoms. Restasis® works by preventing a type of inflammatory cell from entering the Lacrimal Gland and thus allows your Lacrimal Gland to function more effectively so that you can actually make more of your own natural tears. Xiidra® works by blocking a certain protein on the surface of cells in your body which can cause your eyes to not produce enough tears, or to produce tears that are not the correct consistency to keep your eyes healthy. Prescription eye drops for dry eyes may require several weeks of use to actually become effective, so please use these drops exactly as they are prescribed and please be patient.
Even with the above treatment options, there are some patients that may not respond as well as we would like due to some underlying low-grade inflammatory or infectious process. In these cases it may be necessary for us to also prescribe an oral antibiotic such as doxycycline or an anti-inflammatory eye drop such as a steroid eye drop. The diagnosis and treatment of dry eyes is complex and requires patience and persistence but with careful diagnosis and a systematic therapeutic approach, sufferers of dry eye syndrome can most often experience considerable improvement.