Dry Eye Care
Dry eye is a common eye condition. The discomfort and vision problems it causes can severely affect your quality of life. It is more common in women than men and tends to occur more often in middle-aged and older adults than younger people. But because dry eye has many causes, including medications and medical conditions, it can happen to almost anyone.
Dry eye symptoms
Common symptoms of dry eye include:
- Discomfort – Your eyes might feel sandy, gritty, scratchy, itchy or sensitive to light. You might also have burning, stinging or pain. Wind or dry air, such as from air conditioning or a wood stove, can make discomfort worse.
- Trouble seeing – You might have blurry vision, especially at the end of the day or when you focus for a long time. It might be hard to wear contact lenses, if you wear them.
- Physical changes – Your eyes might be watery or red.
Causes of dry eye
Dry eye has three main causes:
- Your tears evaporate too fast. A layer of tears covers your eyes all the time, not just when you cry. Tears are made up of oil, saltwater and mucus. The oil helps keep tears from evaporating too quickly. But the oil-producing glands (Meibomian glands) in the eyelids can become blocked, this is known as Meibomian gland dysfunction, or MGD. If your Meibomian glands are clogged, the oily component cannot be released onto the eye surface, causing tears to evaporate, and creating dry eye symptoms. This type of dry eye can also be associated with a skin condition called Rosacea and inflammation of the eyelids and eye surface.
- Your eyes don’t make enough tears. This can happen for many reasons. Common medications, such as antihistamines and hormone replacement therapy, can cause dry eye. So can certain diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Normal aging and hormone changes in menopause can also cause dry eye.
- Your eyelids don’t distribute tears evenly. Your eyelids distribute tears across your eyes’ surface each time you blink. Dry eye can develop if you don’t blink enough (at least six times a minute) or have a physical eyelid problem, such as an eyelid that droops away from the eye or rolls onto it.
Do you have dry eye? Take the quiz
Wondering if you have dry eye? Take this simple quiz to find out.
|1. Do your eyes feel dry, gritty or scratchy?||Yes||No|
|2. Do you have sore, irritated eyes?||Yes||No|
|3. Do your eyes burn or water?||Yes||No|
|4. Do your eyes feel tired?||Yes||No|
|5. Do you use eye drops to relieve any of these symptoms?||Yes||No|
If you answered “yes” more than twice to the questions above, you should schedule a dry eye evaluation with an ophthalmologist. If you answered “no” to the majority of questions, the discomfort you are experiencing may be symptoms of another condition, and a comprehensive eye exam should be scheduled. Request an appointment online or call 503-935-5580 for the clinic nearest you.
Take our full Dry Eye Questionnaire HERE
Diagnosing dry eye
Before considering dry eye treatment a comprehensive dry eye evaluation is recommended. Oregon Eye Specialists is proud to offer LipiView II technology to our patients; this new offering plays an integral role in accurately diagnosing the type and severity of dry eye that an individual is dealing with.
Diagnostic testing such as LipiView II uses Dynamic Meibomian Imaging that allows your provider to objectively identify the cause of your dry eye by examining lipid thickness, blink rate, and meibomian gland health and structure.
The key pieces of data resulting from these diagnostic tests will allow your provider to craft a customized dry eye treatment plan for you, which may include LipiFlow or other traditional treatments for dry eye.
Treatments for dry eye
There are many ways to treat dry eye, and most people do best with a combination of treatments. Oregon Eye Specialists has a full range of treatment options, including the newest treatment, LipiFlow. Your eye doctor will create a customized treatment plan to reduce your symptoms and get you back to your favorite activities.
Dry eye treatments include:
BlephEx – the newest treatment for dry eye. BlephEx is an in-office procedure that removes excessive bacteria on the eyelid causing dry eye. By keeping eyelids clean through this procedure, inflammation is reduced and symptoms can be dramatically improved. The procedure only takes 6-8 minutes, and most patients only experience a tickling sensation. Learn more about BlephEx.
LipiFlow – LipiFlow is a new treatment for dry eye caused by tears evaporating too fast. This type of dry eye is called evaporative dry eye, and is caused by blockage in the eyelids’ oil-producing glands, or Meibomian glands. LipiFlow is a 12-minute procedure done in your doctor’s office. Learn more about LipiFlow.
Artificial tears – There are many different brands available without a prescription. Try several, and use the one that works best for you. Choose a preservative-free type if you use artificial tears more than four times a day. Some artificial tears that come in individual dose vials—these vials can be used more than once if you keep them clean and throw them away after one day of use.
Omega-3 supplements – These contain natural fatty acids that can help dry eye symptoms. Oregon Eye Specialists recommends Nordic Naturals ProOmega, Barlean’s Flax Oil and Barlean’s Vegan Omega Swirl. If you use omega-3 supplements, you must tell your doctor about all other medications and supplements you take, especially if you take blood thinners, because omega-3s can increase your bleeding risk.
Prescription eye drops and ointments – Restasis, Azasite, steroid eye drops and antibiotic or steroid ointments help decrease the inflammation of dry eye. Follow the directions exactly and contact your eye doctor with any questions.
Antibiotic pills – Antibiotics you take by mouth can also help decrease the inflammation of dry eye. Take these exactly as directed, tell your doctor about all other medications and supplements you take and ask about possible side effects and ways to prevent them.
Punctal plugs – A simple procedure that closes the tiny openings in your eyelids where tears drain away. This keeps tears on your eye’s surface longer. It is done in your eye doctor’s office.
Home care and lifestyle changes – Lifestyle changes include avoiding or wearing less eye makeup, using a humidifier and wearing protective eyewear outside. Home care includes blinking exercises and treating your eyelids twice daily with heat, massage and cleaning.
Oregon Eye Specialists has instructions for blinking exercises and home eye care. We also have doctor-approved eye care items available for purchase, and can show you how to use them.
Your eye doctor will work with you to find the cause of your dry eye and the right treatment options. Oregon Eye Specialists offers the most advanced testing and diagnosis for dry eye, including the LipiView system, which tests how well the Meibomian glands work and captures real-time, color images of the tear film that your doctor will review with you.
Get help for dry eye
Call Oregon Eye Specialists at 503-935-5580
Oregon Eye Specialists has 10 conveniently located clinics. Find one nearby.