Dry Eye Awareness

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Key Takeaways

Dry eyes can be bothersome, especially when the cause is unknown.  Approximately 38 million Americans are impacted by Dry Eye.  Suffering patients simply seek a remedy and may try anything that offers relief like over-the-counter drops, but this approach is tricky since inaccurately treating the cause can further exacerbate Dry Eye symptoms leading to increased frustration in search of a true remedy.  An eye examination by an ophthalmologist or optometrist can help diagnose and assess the severity and properly treat Dry Eye.  Sometimes the causes of Dry Eye coexist, meaning various causes are present such as aqueous tear deficiency in conjunction with Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) and so by treating only one of the causes only relieves part of the symptoms.  Some patients may not even know they have dry eyes until they are diagnosed by an eye specialist as the symptoms may be mild, but patients should be aware. In this post from the San Antonio Eye Specialists blog, we’ll go over the causes and treatments of dry eye syndrome

What Are The Causes of Dry Eye Syndrome? 

The causes of Dry Eye Syndrome are many.  Some autoimmune illnesses cause Dry Eye, to name a few, such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Graves' Disease, Sjogren's Disease, and Hashimoto's Hypothyroidism.  Other medical conditions can cause Dry Eye such as Bell's Palsy, Stoke, Diabetes, Ocular Herpes, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, and Rosacea. Hormones and hormonal changes can also impact Dry Eye during pregnancy and after menopause. Dry Eye also occurs when the tear film which consists of 3 layers: an oily layer, a watery layer, and a mucus layer, is off in consistency. 

Dry Eye can be seasonal during allergy season or it may persist all year long. With the heat that pervades Texas and the heavy use of air conditioners, we know that dry, non-humid environments can precipitate Dry Eye.  Dry Eye is also influenced by external factors like medications, decongestants, inflammation, contact lenses, poor diet and nutrition, infections (bacterial, viral, and fungal), and smoking. 

How Is Dry Eye Syndrome Treated? 

Dry Eye is complex and treating the source of the cause is more critical than simply treating the symptoms.  Symptoms of dry eye vary but people may report dryness, grittiness or scratchiness, itchiness, burning, and pain.  Eyes may appear red and inflamed.  Patients may experience excessive tearing as the brain is reacting to this dryness by producing extra tears.

Just as the symptoms of Dry Eye are varied due to the underlying causes, treatments range from over-the-counter eye drops and ointments to prescription drops, punctal plugs, eyelid scrubs, and Lipiflow.  Some common over-the-counter drops include Refresh Tears, Systane Tears, or more concentrated ointments used at bedtime.  Prescription drops can be given to patients when over-the-counter products offer little to no relief such as Restasis, Xiidra, and Cequa.  Punctal plugs offer some patients relief and can be both temporary/dissolving plugs or semi-permanent plugs.  Punctal plugs (the size of tiny rice grains) are manually inserted by the eye doctor into the tear duct to prevent the escape of tears.   If a patient experiences dry eye from blepharitis, eyelid scrubs such as Ocusoft, or even a mild baby shampoo cleansing of the eyelids are recommended twice a day, AM and PM.  Finally, if patients experience dry eye symptoms as a result of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction then LipiFlow provides heat and massaging of the meibomian glands to prevent oil blockage thereby altering the tear film composition. 

For Dry Eye Treatment in San Antonio, Trust San Antonio Eye Specialists 

Schedule your Dry Eye exam with one of our eye specialists to diagnose the cause and recommend a treatment plan for relief.  San Antonio Eye Specialists is proud to be a top provider of dry eye treatment in San Antonio and the surrounding areas. For your eyes, don't compromise!

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