Dry itchy eyes are caused by either a deficiency in the quantity or the quality of the tears or tear film. Fortunately, today many people can benefit from better diagnostic procedures for dry eyes as well as more advanced dry eye treatments now available.
Dry eye tends to increase temporarily following LASIK surgery and LASIK may not be recommended for people with severe dry eye. Some patients can be treated for dry eye and then become candidates for LASIK surgery in San Jose / San Francisco Bay.
Exposure to hot, dry, windy climates
Exposure to pollution or cigarette smoke
Prolonged computer use or intense reading, due to decrease in frequency of blinking
Normal aging process
Understanding the structure of tears is important in order to understand how the tears and tear film function. Tears are composed of three layers. The innermost mucous layer coats the cornea with a lubricating material called mucin which allows the tear film to stick to the eye. The middle layer of the tear film is called the aqueous layer, and is composed primarily of water and serves to provide moisture, oxygen, and nutrients to the cornea.
The outermost layer of the tear film is called the lipid layer. The lipid layer is an oily film that prevents evaporation of the tear film from the eye. A deficiency in any one or more of the tear film layers can lead to dry or irritated eyes.
LaserVue doctors can use specialized diagnostic tests to determine which layers of the tear film are contributing to the dry eye symptoms.
Tears are produced by a number of different gland structures around the eye. Normally, excess tears flow out of the eye along the lower eyelid toward the nose and into two tiny ducts called lacrimal puncta. Usually, tears are produced on a continual basis in order to lubricate the eye.
It is extremely common for contact lens wearers to experience dry eye syndrome due to the fact that contact lens materials tend to absorb tears and protein from the tears creating dry spots on the lens surface.
Dry, itchy eyes are also a frequent side effect of many systemic medications, medical conditions such as Thyroid disease, Parkinson’s Disease and Sjogren’s Syndrome and Vitamin A Deficiency. Most women report experiencing dry eyes as they enter menopause due to the hormonal changes they encounter, particularly changes in estrogen. Medications: Diuretics taken for high blood pressure, allergy medication, antihistamines, acne medications and many others may all produce dry eye symptoms.
These symptoms typically increase during vision-related activities such as reading, computer use, night driving, or watching television. They may also increase in response to environmental conditions such as wind, low humidity, airplane travel, or being in a smoky environment. Many of these symptoms of dry eyes may also be found in other eye conditions, making careful diagnosis especially important.
For those patients with mild to moderately dry and itchy eyes the first course of treatment may be to use unpreserved artificial tears. Depending on the nature of your tear film deficiency, LaserVue doctors may have you use a specific type of artificial tear that has different characteristics in terms of salt content and viscosity. In addition, your doctor may counsel you on environmental factors that need to be modified. Sometimes, if the oily layer of the tear film is deficient, they may suggest that you increase your consumption of oily fish or even take flax seed oil as a dietary supplement.
For patients with mild, moderate or severe dry eyes, who may already be using artificial tears without relief, the prescription of Restasis or Xiidra eye drops in addition to the other treatments can often help alleviate your symptoms.
If these approaches do not work, eye doctor’s will likely suggest the insertion of tiny punctual 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 the eyelids. It may also be necessary to prescribe an oral antibiotic or an anti-inflammatory eye drop depending on the cause of dry eyes also.
The root cause of many Dry Eye symptoms stems from a condition known as MGD (Meibomian Gland Dysfunction). Meibomian glands are found within the eyelids and are responsible for producing the protective oily (lipid) layer of the eye’s tear film. The tear film defends the eye from disease and prevents tear evaporation.
LipiFlow is a best-in-class treatment for patients suffering from Meibomian Gland Dysfunction and evaporative dry eye.
The diagnosis and treatment of dry eyes are complex and requires patience and persistence on the part of the physician and the patient. With careful diagnosis and a systematic therapeutic approach, many sufferers of dry eye syndrome can experience considerable improvement.
Please call 800.527.3745 for a complete evaluation by an eye doctor at LaserVue Eye Center.
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