At Eastside Eye Specialist Care, Dr Joshua Hann and our team see many patients affected by dry eye disease. The symptoms of dry eye can range from mild and occasional to serious and constant. For some patients, dry eye disease is merely a nuisance; for others, it is debilitating and affects quality of life.
With our expertise, dry eye disease is a treatable condition. If you experience symptoms, we will work with you to find the underlying cause and explore the available solutions to help you find relief.
What Is Dry Eye Disease?
In order for the eyes to stay healthy and comfortable and function properly, the ocular surface must be bathed in a constant layer of tears. The tears help the ocular surface remain moist, smooth and clear; they also help wash away foreign matter and protect the eyes from bacteria.
Healthy tears are made up of three main components: oil, water and mucous. Different glands on or near the eyelids produce these components. If any of the glands develop problems, the balance of the tear film is interrupted and dry eye symptoms occur.
With one type of dry eye, aqueous deficiency dry eye, the lacrimal glands fail to produce enough of the water component of the tears. As a result, the ocular surface does not stay sufficiently lubricated.
Another common type of dry eye, called evaporative dry eye, develops when the meibomian glands become blocked and cannot produce enough of the oily component of the tears. This causes the tears to evaporate too quickly off the ocular surface.
Symptoms of dry eye disease range from person to person, but typically include itchy, burning or stinging eyes. Many patients experience the sensation that something is stuck in the eyes. Other symptoms include red eyes, eye fatigue, sensitivity to light and blurry vision.
Certain personal or lifestyle factors can increase the risk of developing dry eye disease:
- The use of certain medications (e.g. antihistamines)
- Hormonal changes such as menopause
- Prolonged computer use
- The effects of the aging process
- Dry or windy climates
Dry Eye Treatments
If you suffer from constant dry eye symptoms, help is available. Treating dry eye disease depends on the type and severity.
In some cases, making modifications to medication use or changing personal behaviors can reduce dry eye symptoms. Another common dry eye management strategy is using artificial tears and/or prescription eye drops to help the body produce more tears.
Sometimes the combination of heat and gentle massage can melt thickened oils that block the meibomian glands, restoring the normal secretion of oils into the tear film.
Our team has also seen great results with intense pulsed light (IPL) treatment. IPL uses pulses of broad-spectrum light to target inflamed blood vessels that contribute to meibomian gland dysfunction. The light generates a heat response, which triggers the body to close the abnormal blood vessels. This restores normal meibomian gland function.
For more information on the causes and treatments of dry eye disease, please contact Dr Hann and our team today.