Dry Eye Symptoms & Solutions
What is Chronic Dry Eye?
The eyes depend on tear production to maintain a healthy surface. When the tear glands (lacrimal glands) do not secrete enough watery fluid to keep the eyes moist, the eyes become dry and irritated. If the tear deficiency persists, the problem is known as chronic dry eye syndrome.
Affecting millions of people in the United States, dry eye syndrome is one of the most common reasons patients seek treatment from an eye doctor.
Chronic Dry Eye Symptoms
Chronic dry eye syndrome is typically progressive and often affects both eyes. Symptoms include:
- Stinging, itching or burning sensation
- Watery eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Inability to wear contact lenses
- Blurry vision
Although it seems counterintuitive, excessively watery eyes is a common problem associated with dry eye syndrome. When the eye lacks enough moisture, the body attempts to compensate for the tear-deficiency by producing extra liquid. Unfortunately, the composition of this emergency tear supply is low on mucus and oils, key constituents that are needed for optimal eye health.
Treatment Options for Chronic Dry Eye
Although it may not be possible to cure dry eyes, the condition can be managed. The goal of any treatment is to keep the eye adequately lubricated. Because dry eyes can be caused by a variety of factors, the precise treatment will vary from patient to patient. Common treatment options include:
- Artificial tears and over-the-counter eye drops
- Prescription anti-inflammatory and lubricating eye drops (such as Restasis and steroid eye drops)
- Ointments (to help keep the eye area supple)
In some cases, a small sterile, biocompatible device can be inserted into the tear duct. These devices, called punctal plugs, block tear drainage and retain moisture. Punctal plugs can be semi-permanent or dissolvable. The insertion of punctal plugs is a straight-forward procedure in which a local anesthesia is often optional. Once in place, punctal plugs do not cause discomfort–in fact, they cannot be felt at all.
Severe dry eye can lead to eye infections and corneal scarring. To reduce inflammation and the risk of scarring, a biologic corneal bandage, or amniotic membrane graft, can be surgically inserted. These therapeutic devices promote healing and can be used in combination with other topical agents.
Your Chronic Dry Eye Consultation with Dr. SEMAAN, Huntington Beach, CA
Chronic dry eye can cause discomfort and interfere with vision. Contact our Orange County office today to schedule your consultation.