Having dry eyes can cause significant discomfort. Individuals who have dry eyes might even have trouble doing regular tasks and activities due to this condition. Atlanta Vision Cataract & Laser Center provides dry eye treatments for those in the Hapeville, Atlanta, Georgia area. These treatments provide relief from dry eye symptoms.
Dry Eye Symptoms
The symptoms of dry eyes typically occur in both eyes rather than just one. Some common symptoms include a scratchy or stinging feeling in the eyes, redness, and a sense of having debris or grit in the eyes. Some individuals with dry eyes also experience sensitivity to light or blurry vision. Those who have dry eyes might also have trouble wearing contacts or being able to drive when it’s dark out. In some cases, individuals might have watery eyes due to eye irritation.
Dry Eye Causes
A few different factors can cause dry eyes. Some individuals have this condition when their glands don’t produce enough tears, which can happen due to aging, diabetes and other medical conditions, some types of medications, and damage to tear glands. Other individuals have dry eyes when their tears evaporate more than usual. This can occur due to exposure to environmental factors, such as wind or smoke. It can also happen from decreased blinking while staring at screens or driving. Having problems with one or more of the layers that make up tears, which include mucus, water, and oil, can also cause dry eyes. This can happen due to clogged or blocked glands.
Dry Eye Treatment Options
There are several types of treatments available for dry eyes. The kind of treatment needed to relieve symptoms depends on the cause of this condition. Some treatment options include using artificial tears, getting dry eye plugs, and using prescription eye drops, such as RESTASIS® and Xiidra®. Artificial tears offer short-term relief from dry eye symptoms by increasing the amount of moisture in the eyes. Dry eye plugs prevent tears from draining too quickly, which helps the eyes stay moist on a regular basis. Xiidra and RESTASIS® eye drops block proteins that can lead to inadequate tear production or an imbalance in tear composition.
How Can Individuals Prevent Dry Eyes?
People who are prone to dry eyes can prevent symptoms from occurring in several ways. These include looking away from screens from time to time, using a humidifier in the home, avoiding exposure to smoke and other environmental factors if possible, and wearing wraparound sunglasses for extra protection. If you’re suffering from dry eyes, call or schedule an appointment online at Atlanta Vision Cataract & Laser Center.
The Anatomy of Your Tears
Your tears contain three layers: Lipid (oil), aqueous (watery fluid) and mucin. The oil in your tears is produced by meibomian glands inside your eyelids and lubricates the eyes to avoid fast tear evaporation. The aqueous protects and nourishes the cornea, and the mucin layer holds your tears on the eye’s surface. One of the common causes of dry eyes is blocked meibomian glands, or meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD).
When meibomian glands are blocked or damaged, your tears have insufficient oil levels. Each eyelid has 30-40 of these glands that are supposed to express oil with every blink, but the blockage causes the lipid to thicken, and the glands may swell, even atrophy, causing permanent dry eye issues.
IPL Treatment for Dry Eyes
Intense pulsed light (IPL) treatments for dry eyes also target meibomian gland dysfunction. Using light pulses in the 500-800nm wavelength, IPL penetrates the eyelids to improve gland function and restore the lipid layer of your tears. IPL treatments heat the tissues and blood vessels in the eyelids to break apart the blockages and improve tear production. Multiple treatments may be necessary, and each session often takes less than 10 to 15 minutes with results that may last up to a year.
Improving Dry Eyes with Better Nutrition and Supplements
You may be able to reduce your dry eye disease symptoms by adding some essential nutrients to your diet. Fatty acids, including Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, can act as an adjunct treatment to help stabilize the lipid (oil) layer of your tear film and improve lubrication on the eye’s surface. These nutrients have anti-inflammatory properties, which may ease some dry eye symptoms. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids may be taken as an oral supplement or incorporated into your meals and snacks. They are found heavily in fish such as cod, trout, salmon and mackerel and healthy oils, including sunflower, walnut, flaxseed and canola oils. Some meats (pork, beef and lamb) and dairy also contain these fatty acids. The Mediterranean diet is an excellent way to incorporate these foods into your treatment plan.
Lutein and zeaxanthin antioxidants may improve chronic eye diseases along with vitamins C and E and zinc. A nutritious diet can do more than alleviate dry eyes — it can help prevent cataracts and reduce your risk of age-related macular degeneration. These eye diseases are two of the most common causes of blindness. Talk with our eye doctors to discuss how better nutrition and/or supplements can improve dry eye disease.
Dry Eye FAQs
When Should I See an Eye Doctor About Dry Eyes?
Healthy eyes require evenly distributed tears and good tear quality. When your eye’s surface isn’t properly moisturized, you will experience eye itching, redness, irritation and other symptoms that make enjoying your day-to-day life challenging. If you struggle with uncomfortable dry eyes that interfere with your activities such as long walks outside, reading or using a computer, schedule an eye exam to evaluate your tears and discuss dry eye treatments at Atlanta Vision Laser and Cataract Center.
What Are the Benefits of Dry Eye Treatment?
Dry eye treatments such as medications, IPL and other options can restore comfortable vision so you can enjoy visual tasks again such as reading, watching TV and time outside in windy weather. Dry eye disease is often a chronic and progressive condition. Untreated dry eyes can lead to corneal scarring and ulcers and increase your risk of eye infection. Most people with dry eyes qualify for one or more treatment options.
How is Dry Eye Disease Diagnosed?
Our eye doctors evaluate your tear film and meibomian glands during your eye exam to determine the cause of your dry eyes. You don’t need to live day in and day out with significant eye discomfort and irritation. We will assess the volume and quality of your tears and discuss your symptoms and medical history to determine if there are underlying causes, including your current medications or a health condition such as diabetes that may contribute to dry eyes.
Who is Most at Risk for Dry Eyes?
Women are more likely than men to experience dry eyes, especially when experiencing hormonal changes due to oral contraceptives, pregnancy or menopause. People over the age of 50 produce fewer tears and may develop dry eyes around this time in their life. There are other risk factors, including:
- Excessive screen use
- Medications such as antihistamines and decongestants
- Health conditions, including thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes
- Environmental issues such as air pollution and extreme winds or dry climate
Schedule Your Dry Eye Evaluation in Atlanta
If dry eyes affect your ability to enjoy everyday activities or perform visual tasks, contact our eye doctors at Atlanta Vision Laser and Cataract Center to schedule your eye exam. Call or schedule an appointment online today.