Dry eyes are an incredibly common condition. Symptoms are often fleeting, and sometimes people don’t even realize they suffer from dry eyes. Dr. Patel believes education is the key to a comfortable life, and at the Wichita Vision Institute in Wichita, KS, Dr. Patel can help you overcome your dry eye issues.
7 Signs You Should Consider Dry Eye Treatment
1. You Suffer From Severe, Chronic Eye Pain
While dry eye can be temporary, chronic dry eye is a progressive condition. This is often accompanied by severe symptoms, such as severe, chronic eye pain. If over-the-counter lubricating drops are not enough to ease your symptoms, you need to come in for dry eye treatment.
Some people feel a sharp pain in their eyes. However, the chronic pain may present itself as an extreme burning or stinging sensation. Dry eye treatment is essential because extremely dry eyes can damage your cornea’s surface. This part of the eye is particularly sensitive to irritation because of its extremely high density of nerve endings. Your chronic eye pain may be a sign that corneal abrasion has occurred due to dry eyes.
2. You Can’t Tolerate Bright Lights
Chronic dry eye is often caused by working at a computer regularly. When people work at a computer, they usually blink less often. In some cases, taking regular breaks and applying lubricating eye drops can help with this condition.
For people who suffer from severe chronic dry eye, eye drops may work at first and then stop working. You may find that you suffer from extreme light sensitivity or photophobia. Photophobia is eye pain that occurs when your eyes are exposed to light. Such pain can lead to chronic headaches or chronic migraines.
There are several types of light that can trigger pain or eye redness. It’s most often light from an electronic device, such as a television or computer monitor or fluorescent lights. However, sunlight may also trigger this pain and sensitivity.
3. You Can’t Remove Your Contact Lenses
When you wear contact lenses and suffer from chronic dry eye, removing your lenses can become difficult. This is because contact lenses require adequate moisture to remain comfortable. Unfortunately, over-the-counter lubricating eye drops aren’t always enough to keep your contacts moist and eyes lubricated.
You may need a prescription contact lens that is specifically designed for dry eyes. Moreover, you may have to use re-wetting drops regularly throughout the day. If your eyes are moist and still struggle to remove your contact lenses, it’s possible that your nails have scratched your cornea.
4. You Have Double Vision or Blurry Vision
Temporary blurry vision is an incredibly common sign that you need dry eye treatment. Most of the time, applying over-the-counter eye drops or blinking a few times will be enough to eliminate the blurriness. However, if OTC eye drops do not improve your blurry vision, you probably need an eye drop prescription.
You should also see a board-certified ophthalmologist if you experience double vision. Both double vision and blurry vision can occur when the tear film on the surface of your eyes becomes uneven. This is frequently caused by chronic dry eye.
5. You’re Using Eyedrops Constantly
When over-the-counter remedies are effective for people with dry eye, administering drops once or twice daily is enough to get relief. If you’re applying over-the-counter eye drops constantly but your symptoms aren’t improving, it’s time to schedule an appointment with an ophthalmologist. You can get a prescription eye drop that will be more effective at improving your symptoms.
Dr. Patel knows the difference between the various types of eye drops on the market and can help you find the right kind of drop to provide you with relief based on the underlying cause of your chronic dry eye. Whether you need an antibiotic eyedrop, anti-inflammatory eyedrop or tear-stimulating eye drop, you can trust Dr. Patel to give you the care and relief you need and deserve.
6. You Feel Anxious or Depressed
Many people don’t know that chronic dry eye can affect their mood. Some people suffer from chronic dry eye and manage their symptoms well with over-the-counter eye drops. Thus, the symptoms don’t strongly affect their emotions.
However, when over-the-counter remedies are not enough to control your symptoms, your quality of life is drastically impaired. Anxiety or depression often manifest themselves as a result of chronic dry eye. While there are prescription medications that can treat anxiety or depression, your life will be most improved by treating the root cause of your disordered emotions.
7. You Can’t Cry or Produce Tears
Prescription eye drops for treating chronic dry eyes are often necessary for people who feel the urge to cry but cannot produce any natural tears. Certain prescription eye drops are designed to stimulate your tear glands, keeping your eyes moist and allowing you to cry when you need to. Keep in mind, even if you don’t often feel the need to cry, chronic lack of moisture means your eyes can’t wash away any debris that may damage your cornea’s surface.
Am I at Risk for Developing Dry Eyes?
There are several risk factors for developing dry eyes. Women are significantly more susceptible to this condition than men. Moreover, being over the age of 50 puts you into a higher risk category. Other risk factors for developing chronic dry eye include using digital devices over two hours daily and natural hormonal changes. Certain medical conditions can also be a factor, including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
Some prescription medications can cause dry eyes, including:
- Blood pressure medications
You can’t change your age or gender. You may be unable to come off birth control or limit your screen time to two hours daily. But there are still steps you can take to mitigate your risk of developing chronic dry eye and manage the symptoms.
How Can I Mitigate My Risk?
To mitigate your risk of developing chronic dry eyes, get plenty of vitamin A in your diet. Excess vitamin A is converted by your body into beta carotene. Beta carotene is essential to your eye health. Great sources of vitamin A include carrots, kale, and spinach.
Moreover, Omega-3 fatty acids are incredibly important for your eye health. These fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties and are effective for treating the symptoms of dry eye. Omega-3 fatty acids are most commonly found in fish. If you don’t like fish that are rich in healthy fatty acids, you can get your daily dose of these acids from chia seeds, walnuts and flaxseeds.
Dry Eye Diagnosis
To receive the proper treatment for your chronic dry eye, an accurate diagnosis is crucial. This often involves a comprehensive eye exam, including a complete history of your general health overall and your eye health. This way, your ophthalmologist can determine the root cause of your chronic dry eye.
Moreover, the volume of your tear production may be measured using the Schirmer test. This test only takes about five minutes and involves blotting strips of paper placed beneath your lower eyelids to absorb the tears you produce.
Finally, the quality of your tears may be assessed as part of the diagnosis processed. A special dye may be put into an eyedrop to assess the surface condition of your eyes. Your board-certified ophthalmologist may time how long it takes for your tears to evaporate and look for staining patterns on your corneas.
Treatment for Chronic Dry Eye
The best treatment for chronic dry eye treats the underlying health issue that is causing your condition. For example, if your dry eye is caused as a side effect of a medication you are currently taking, the most effective course of action is switching to a medication that doesn’t cause this side effect.
Prescription Anti-Inflammatory Medications
Prescription anti-inflammatory medications are usually highly effective at treating chronic dry eye. When severe inflammation occurs along the edge of your eyelids, oil glands can’t secrete oil into your tears. Antibiotics have an anti-inflammatory effect and can improve the quality of your tears. While these antibiotics are usually oral, they may be prescribed as ointments or eye drops.
Eyedrops for Corneal Inflammation
In some cases, chronic dry eye is caused by corneal inflammation. Since you can’t put cream or ointment on your cornea, you’ll need a prescription eye drop to control the inflammation. Corticosteroids are ideal for short-term use. However, if you need long-term corneal inflammation control, you’ll need an immune-suppressing medication such as cyclosporine.
When artificial tears don’t improve your moderate-to-severe chronic dry eye symptoms, a tiny eye insert may be necessary to experience relief. This tiny insert looks like a clear grain of rice. Once daily, you’ll need to place the hydroxypropyl cellulose insert between your eyeball and lower eyelid. This insert slowly dissolves while releasing a lubricating substance.
Eye inserts are only necessary in severe cases where your symptoms do not respond to traditional treatments. Often, cholinergics, such as cevimeline or pilocarpine, are enough to alleviate your symptoms. These medications are designed to stimulate your natural tears and are available as eye drops, gel or pills.
Alternative Treatments for Chronic Dry Eye
Closing Your Tear Ducts
To prevent your tears from leaving your eye too quickly, you may need to have your tear ducts closed partially or completely. Your tear ducts can be plugged with punctal plugs to prevent chronic rapid tear drain. These tiny silicone plugs are removable. Thermal cautery is similar but offers a more permanent solution to your chronic dry eye.
Special Contact Lenses
If you wear glasses or standard contact lenses, special contact lenses may improve your chronic dry eye. These lenses are designed to trap moisture and protect the surface of your cornea from damage. Such lenses are known as bandage lenses or scleral lenses.
Light Therapy and Eyelid Massage
In cases of severe chronic dry eyes, intense-pulsed light therapy followed by an eyelid massage has been scientifically proven to alleviate symptoms.
Unblocking Oil Glands
If your chronic dry eye is caused by blocked oil glands, unblocking your oil glands can improve your condition drastically. Apply an eye mask or warm compress daily to clear up any debris that is causing blockages. Alternatively, a thermal pulsation device may be used to unclog blocked oil glands.
Schedule Your Initial Consultation Today
To determine if you need dry eye treatment, contact Dr. Patel at Wichita Vision Institute in Wichita, KS today to schedule your initial consultation. She will help you care for your eyes so you can live more comfortably, see better and prevent serious future complications. Reach out by phone at (316) 773-6400 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can request an appointment by filling out a quick contact request form and letting Dr. Patel know how she can help you.