Dry eye is a condition in which your eyes are not producing enough tears to lubricate the surface of the eye. Tears are vital to your eye health. Besides lubricating the surface, tears help protect against infection and wash away debris that enters the eye.
There are many factors that can cause a patient’s dry eye. Generally speaking women are more prone to dry eye due to changes in hormones during pregnancy and menopause. Individuals, both men and women, are likely to develop dry eyes as they age. Other causes include medications and long term contact lens usage.
During your eye exam, the eye doctor will examine your cornea and eyelids. They will also evaluate your tears itself. To examine your tears, the eye doctor will introduce a specialized dye. This will allow them to observe your tear flow and any abnormalities that may exist.
Treatment of dry eye varies and is dependent on the severity of the condition. The overall objective is to relieve any discomfort, keep the eye moisturized and make sure the eye is healthy.
Your eye doctor may advise you to use an over the counter (artificial tears) eye drop solution. Depending on the severity of your dry eye, they could also prescribe an eye drop solution to use in conjunction with the over the counter drops or as a replacement to that solution.
There are several brands of eye drops that your eye doctor can prescribe to you as treatment. The eye drops provide lubrication, increase tear production and will help reduce inflammation.
Another option to treat your dry eye that your eye doctor may opt for is punctal plugs. These tiny plugs are placed in your tear ducts to stop your tears from draining. By stopping the drainage, the tears stay in the eye longer, resulting in prolonged lubrication to the surface of the eye.
As seen, the method of treatment varies and is based on the severity of your dry eye condition. Patients can expect to discuss nutritional supplements, warm compresses, eye drops and more intense treatments with their eye doctor.
The best way to determine the correct treatment for dry eye is to schedule a comprehensive eye exam immediately. If left untreated for an extended period of time, dry eye could impair your vision and damage your eye tissue and cornea.