Dry eyes occur when your tears aren’t able to provide adequate moisture for your eyes. Tears can be inadequate for many reasons. In some cases, the lacrimal gland does not produce enough tears. This is more common in individuals who have underlying rheumatologic or auto-immune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or Sjogren’s syndrome. In others, their lacrimal gland produce enough tears, but the tears evaporate too quickly. Near the edge of the eyelids are the meibomian glands. They produce an oil that is a part of the tear film. This oil floats to the top of the water part of the tear film and slows down evaporation. If the meibomian glands are plugged due to the oil being to thick, then the water part of the tear simply evaporates at a faster rate. The first is called aqueous deficiency dry eye and the second is called evaporative dry eye.
Dry eyes can be very uncomfortable. If you have dry eyes, your eyes may sting, burn, get red and even tear. You may experience dry eyes in certain situations, such as on an airplane, in an air-conditioned room, while reading, or after looking at a computer screen for a few hours (sometimes minutes). This problem can be exacerbated by use of a ceiling fan.
Dry eyes treatments may make you more comfortable. Treatments include:
- Artificial tear drops, sometimes referred to as lubricating or moisturizing drops
- Turning off ceiling fans
- Treating underlying diseases with the help of a rheumatologist
- Medicated eye drops: Xiidra® or Restasis®
In cases that are not relieved by conservative interventions, minor procedures using new and old technology can be tried. These options can provide more relief from moderate to severe dryness:
- Punctal plugs – can slow the flow of tears from the eyes into the lacrimal sac
- Prokera Slim® amniotic membrane – provides growth factors and anti-inflammatory molecules
- Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) – open the meibomian glands and softens the oil in the glands
If you are suffering from dry eyes and have not found a successful treatment options, give us a call at (210) 485-1488 for an evaluation and to discuss the best treatment options for your condition.