Dry eye is a condition that is much more complex than the name implies and much more common than you might think. Statistics show that 23 million Americans have dry eye, but there are likely many more that are undiagnosed. At SkyVision Centers in suburban Cleveland, we see dry eye every day, often in people who didn’t know they had it. Because this condition has such a huge impact on our patients’ comfort, vision, and eye health, we’ve made dry eye treatment a priority at our practice.
The experienced doctors at SkyVision Centers are proud to treat both the cause and symptoms of dry eye syndrome. The recent introduction of Lipiflow® treatment for the cause of dry eye syndrome is very exciting. SkyVision was also one of the first accredited TearLab Dry Eye Centers in the U.S., which means we are one of the nation’s premier practices in the treatment of dry eye symptoms. Request your dry eye consultation today and learn about your options for clearer, more comfortable eyes.
What are the treatment options for dry eye?
Your treatment will be symptom-driven, and our goal is the smallest amount of intervention needed to produce the greatest degree of improvement.
Prescription Eye Drops
Chronic inflammation is a very important cause of dry eye, especially for women between the ages of 35 and 60. Restasis is a totally different type of anti-inflammatory drop and a breakthrough in dry eye care. It helps increase your eyes’ ability to produce tears, and can be used over very long periods of time. It is both very safe and very effective.
There is now a new medicine available to treat this inflammation, Xiidra. It is also very effective, has very few side effects, and is very easy to use. Xiidra is FDA approved to treat the inflammation that your doctors see in the office as well as the symptoms that your dry eye disease is causing.
Acute inflammation, or an acute worsening of chronic inflammation can be treated with topical steroid eye drops. Lotemax gel is a very effective steroid drop which has the best safety profile of all topical steroids.
Inflammation in the eyelid glands that produce the oil part of the tears (meibomian glands) is a very important cause of dysfunctional tear syndrome, or the evaporative dry eye. This type of inflammation, often called Blepharitis or meibomian gland disease (MGD), can be treated with a combination of manual therapy (warm compresses, lid cleaning, or newer automated treatment like the LipiFlow® system) and topical medication. The topical antibiotic gel drop Azasite is a wonderful treatment for those people who require longer term care. Azasite is easy to apply and has such a long duration that some patients only need to use it twice a week.
We now have a new treatment for MGD and all of its symptoms called LipiFlow. Heating the meibomian glands from the inside of the lid with the LipiFlow Activator is a very effective treatment, especially when it is combined with the LipiFlow micro-massage. Most patients continue to have some relief from their symptoms a year after a single treatment.
The combination of Restasis or Xiidra with either Azasite or LipiFlow is considered by many eye doctors to be the gold standard in the treatment of dry eye symptoms.
Most people with evaporative dry eye have meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) – blockage of the tiny glands that produce the lipid component of tears. LipiFlow® treatments use heat and gentle pulsatile pressure to unclog obstructed Meibomian glands and provide remarkable relief. Using a single-use eyepiece, the LipiFlow® treatment clears all the meibomian glands, both upper and lower. Within 2 to 6 weeks, dry eye symptoms should improve dramatically as the lipid component of your tears increases. Patients compare the feeling of the gentle pulsations to having a twitchy eyelid.
Punctal Plugs DiagramSometimes the most appropriate treatment is to conserve the tears that you are producing naturally. Tears drain from your eye through tiny channels that actually empty inside your nose. With a minor tear duct procedure, we can conserve your tears and increase the amount of time that both natural and artificial tears stay in contact with your eye by closing these tear duct channels with punctal plugs. These can be temporary or permanent, and are indicated in about 15 to 20% of cases.
Over-the-counter Eye Drops/Artificial Tears
Most people are better served by the medical-grade products available at SkyVision Centers, but you may benefit from over-the-counter artificial tears for dry eyes. These may include saline eye drops or natural eye drops. Your SkyVision doctor will give you a list or very specific recommendations for the best types for your particular condition.
Are there at-home remedies for dry eye?
Yes! All dry eye patients would probably benefit from taking vitamins for their dry eyes such as an oral Omega-3 fatty acid supplement. The most effective supplements are fish oil that contains Omega-3 fatty acids in the triglyceride forms DHA and EPA. The most effective doses are probably as much as 2 or 3 grams of DHA or EPA per day. Ask your SkyVision Center doctor for a personal recommendation on types of fish oil supplements for Omega-3 fatty acids.
If you have eyelid margin disease, you may benefit from warm compresses and special eyelid cleansers.
You should also use a humidifier during the dry months; protect your eyes from wind, cold, and ultraviolet light with a good pair of sunglasses; and drink lots of water. If you are experiencing dry eyes at night, you may benefit from the use of dry eye goggles while you sleep.