How to Treat Dry Eyes
Symptoms of dry eye disease can range from mildly annoying to severe. The burning, gritty, irritated feeling that accompanies dry eye disease can range from mildly annoying to completely burdensome, and can even negatively impact day-to-day life. Dry eye disease is typically a chronic condition, so effectively treating the condition requires a long-term approach with the goal of reducing symptoms of irritation and improving ocular health. The specific cause for your dry eye disease may effect what treatment is most effective for you, so it’s important to visit your optometrist to have your eye evaluated. Below are some of the more common treatment options for addressing the symptoms of dry eye disease.
Artificial Tears for Dry Eyes
In most cases, lubricating artificial tears are the first line of treatment for dry eyes. Artificial tears are easily available eye drops that can be purchased over-the-counter without a prescription. They help keep the front of the eye moisturized and can reduce some of the discomfort associated with dry eyes. Most artificial tears come in multi-dose bottles and contain preservatives which prevent contamination of the liquid once the bottle has been open. These multi-dose bottles are great for treating mild symptoms of dry eyes for those only need to use artificial tears a few times a day. There is also the option of preservative-free artificial tears, which come in single-dose vials. For those with moderate to severe forms of dry eye disease, the preservative-free options are best, especially if frequent instillation of artificial tears is required. There are other options for lubricating tears including gel eye drops, lipid-based artificial tears, and even special artificial tears that can be used with contact lenses. If you are overwhelmed by the number of options for eye drops to use when treating your dry eye disease, ask your optometrist for specific recommendations.
Meibomian gland dysfunction is an underlying condition that can worsen the symptoms of dry eye disease. In this condition, the glands along the eyes are not properly releasing part of the tear film. In order to prevent Meibomian gland dysfunction and promote a healthy and adequate tear film, we have to pay attention to our eyelids and eyelashes. Thoroughly cleaning your eyelashes every day with warm water and a gentle soap, or with commercially prepared lid wipes, can prevent debris and bacteria from collecting at the base of the lashes and can reduce symptoms associated with Meibomian gland dysfunction. Another important step in maintaining proper eyelid hygiene is applying warm compresses to the eyelids for 10 or 15 minutes. The heat from warm compresses prevents the oils within the Meibomian glands from clogging up. Beyond improving symptoms of dry eye disease, lid scrubs and warm compresses can prevent uncomfortable and unsightly bumps or styes from forming on the eyelids.
Prescription Dry Eye Drops
Sometimes artificial tears and proper lid hygiene isn’t enough to improve symptoms of dry eye disease. If your dry eye is severe, your eye doctor may need to write you a prescription for eye drops with medication in them. If your symptoms are caused or worsened by inflammation on the front surface of the eye, topical steroid eye drops may help improve your symptoms. These drops are usually only used for a short time, but can improve comfort and health of the eye. If a short course of topical steroids is an effective treatment, then further treatment with medications such as Restasis or Xiidra can be considered. These drops also treat dry eye disease by reducing inflammation on the front surface of the eye that contributes to ocular discomfort. Restasis and Xiidra are both long-term treatment options, and may take several months to begin working. However, once they become effective in reducing ocular surface inflammation, they can significantly improve ocular health and can even help the eyes produce more of their own natural tears.
When it comes to treating dry eye disease, it is important to remember that there is no over-night cure. It is important to stick with your treatment approach in order to improve the health of your eyes.
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At Nittany Eye Associates, you will receive only the highest quality eye exam with our eye doctors in the State College, PA and surrounding areas. Call us at (814) 234-2015 or schedule an appointment online with one of our highly trained optometrists in State College. The next time you need an evaluation for dry eyes or if you want to learn more about dry eye drops be sure to Nittany Eye Associates where we put always put the care of you and your family first at our convenient locations in State College, Matilda, Spring Mills, Tyrone, and Lock Haven PA areas.