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Dry EyeSymptoms, Causes & Treatment
At Gulfcoast Eye Care, it’s a point of pride for us to be able to provide simple solutions for even the most complex eye conditions. Dry eye syndrome may seem like a minor inconvenience, but if it’s not going away, it can have a significant negative impact on your quality of life.
As you’ll read about here, dry eye disease is a condition that can stem from a variety of different sources and cause a diverse array of symptoms. At Gulfcoast Eye Care, we provide care to match. By offering a range of tests, treatments, and methods of managing dry eyes, we’ll be able to find the solution that works for you, guaranteed.
Dry eye disease — also called dry eye syndrome, keratoconjunctivitis sicca, or ocular surface disease — is a chronic condition caused by either decreased tear production due to blocked glands in the eyelid or increased tear film evaporation. In other words, dry eye syndrome happens when your eyes are unable to produce the optimal tear quantity or quality to keep them moisturized.
Tears help to moisturize your eyes, protect against infection, and help wounds heal, so the production and drainage of tears is important to maintaining the health of your eyes. Due to the complex nature of dry eye disease and its tendency to mimic the symptoms of other problems like eye allergies, this condition is frequently under-diagnosed.
Symptoms of dry eye disease include:
You might notice some of these symptoms more often while driving, reading, using the computer, or watching television, because you tend to blink less often when performing these activities. Blinking spreads tears across the surface of the eyes and keeps them lubricated. This means that when your eyes are focused on something for long periods of time, you won’t blink as often, causing them to dry out.
Dry eye is more common in women, especially after menopause, because of the changes in hormone levels. Dry eyes can also flare up due to environmental factors such as fans or air conditioner vents blowing on you, or in low humidity environments such as airplane cabins. Certain medications can also make dry eye symptoms worse.
Other medical conditions may cause dry eye, including rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, thyroid problems, or Sjögren’s syndrome, among others. Problems affecting the anatomy of the eyelids may also play a role in dry eye syndrome. Sometimes, people who have laser vision correction surgery (like LASIK) experience the onset of new dry eye symptoms as a short-term side effect during the first year while their eyes are healing.
There are two primary types of dry eye disease: evaporative (or oil-deficient) dry eye, and aqueous (or water-deficient) dry eye.
At Gulfcoast Eye Care, we use the most advanced technologies available to determine which type of dry eye is affecting you. This is especially important because your treatment may be quite different depending upon the source of your symptoms.
Evaporative dry eye is the most common form and affects approximately 65% of people who suffer from dry eye. This is caused by meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) or blockage of the eyelid glands that would normally produce the oil layer of your tears.
Aqueous dry eye may be a consequence of ongoing dry eye syndrome. It develops on the eye’s surface, leading to decreased water production by the lacrimal gland. The lacrimal gland produces the water layer of your tears, where the meibomian gland produces the oil layer. This illustration shows the three layers of the tear film and the oil-producing glands that can become obstructed.
Dry eye syndrome is an ocular surface disease, which are conditions that affect the cornea, the transparent front part of the eye. Other ocular surface diseases include blepharitis, meibomian gland dysfunction, allergic eye diseases, and eyelid margin disease.
Since some patients experience symptoms of several of these conditions at once, it can be difficult to diagnose and treat them — and since ocular surface diseases are chronic, finding a doctor you can communicate with and who knows you well is very important.
At Gulfcoast Eye Care, we realize that living with dry eyes can be challenging. Our experienced doctors will design an individualized approach to your treatment to find out what is most effective for you.
Dry Eye and Ocular Surface Disease share symptoms with Eyelid Margin Disease, a common, chronic eye condition characterized by inflammation of eyelids. Lid margin conditions, which include blepharitis and meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), may cause symptoms including:
Gulfcoast Eye Care offers several safe and effective treatments for dry eye syndrome, using the latest cutting-edge equipment. Importantly, we place an emphasis on not only treating your symptoms, but also, the sources of the issue. This makes treatment more sustainable and allows you to live a more comfortable daily life.
A breakthrough treatment, LipiFlow® Thermal Pulsation Therapy, has benefitted many dry eye sufferers. This revolutionary 12-minute, in-office procedure works by applying direct energy to the blocked glands within the eyelids where it is most needed.
LipiFlow® uses a combination of gentle heat and intermittent pressure to unblock the tear glands. As a result, these glands can begin functioning normally and, in most cases, provide symptom relief.
At Gulfcoast Eye Care, our eye doctors are proud to be the first ophthalmology practice in Florida offering the LipiView® and LipiFlow® diagnostic and treatment technologies for dry eye disease. As a result, our practice and doctors were featured on CBS, as shown in the below video.
MiBo Thermaflo is a safe and effective therapeutic treatment for dry eye disease. By applying a continuous, controlled heat to the eyelids, hardened oils that hinder tear production are loosened, providing relief from the symptoms of dry eye.
This delivery of consistent heat to the blocked glands helps to improve tear production overall, creating lasting results.
Punctal plugs may be an option for dry eye syndrome when other treatments fail to provide relief from symptoms. Punctal plugs, also known as lacrimal plugs or tear duct plugs, are tiny medical devices that are designed to be inserted in the tear ducts. Once in place, they can improve dry eye symptoms by preventing tear drainage and promoting lubrication.
Insertion of punctal plugs is typically a simple in-office procedure. There are several types of punctal plugs available and your doctor at Gulfcoast Eye Care can discuss which type may be best for you.
Given the many factors that can lead to or worsen dry eye syndrome, an evaluation with a trained eye care professional is highly recommended.
In addition to the treatments listed above, other treatments for dry eye include artificial tears, prescription eye medications, or oral supplements. Your eyes are unique, and our trained ophthalmologists will give you a thorough exam and recommend the best treatment for you.
If you believe you’re experiencing dry eye syndrome, especially after you’ve taken our self-test, don’t hesitate — give us a call today, and Gulfcoast Eye Care can help you decide which treatment is right for you. Relief from dry eye disease is just a phone call away!