Dry Eye Treatment

Dry eye is one of the most common eye conditions in northern Nevada. Numerous patients are treated for dry eye problems every day at Sierra Nevada Eye Center.

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What is Dry Eye Syndrome (DES)?

Dry Eye SyndromeThe surface of the eye is protected by the tear film layer, which is refreshed every time you blink. If the tear film is abnormal in any way, then the surface of the eye may become exposed and compromised, which may lead to problems such as blurred vision, irritation or scratchy sensation, burning, redness, intermittent tearing, and light sensitivity. There are many things that can lead to DES, including environmental conditions, eyelid disorders, systemic diseases (such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and sarcoid), increasing age, medications (such as antihistamines and diuretics), and nutritional deficiencies. Due to the very dry climate in Nevada, DES is one of the most common eye problems we see at Sierra Nevada Eye Center. The dry air results in more rapid evaporation of the water layer of the tear film; this can be exacerbated by such things as wind and prolonged reading or computer work.

How is DES treated?

A thorough eye exam is required to assess for any treatable underlying disease. Most cases of DES can be simply treated with use of over-the-counter artificial tear solutions. There are many such products available, but non-preserved products are most recommended (certain preservatives can eventually irritate the eye). The key in using these drops is to apply them frequently enough to alleviate the problem; once-a-day use will not help much in many cases. Other helpful treatments may include regular hydration, a daily supplement of omega 3 fatty acids (fish oil or flaxseed oil), humidifier at home, and wraparound glasses to block out wind and ventilation. Should DES problems persist despite use of artificial tears, then punctal occlusion (see below) or a prescription of Restasis eye drops may be required. For more information about Restasis, visit www.Restasis.com

What is involved in punctal occlusion?

The tear film system is the eye’s natural plumbing system, whereby tear glands release the tears that bathe the eye; the tears then drain out through the puncta and into the tear duct, which leads to the nose. Each eyelid has an opening called the punctum, found on the edge of the lid towards the nose. If the punctum is blocked, then tears remain on the eye surface longer, resulting in better lubrication of the eye. One of our most common DES treatments is punctal occlusion, whereby a small plug is placed at the punctal opening to block it. Punctal occlusion with a plug is a very quick and simple procedure performed in the office.

For more information about Dry Eye Syndrome, visit the National Eye Institute website.

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Related Topics: Pterygium Surgery, Blepharitis, Back to Ocular Surface Disease Center

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