How To Treat Dry Eyes
This is a chronic condition that if left untreated can cause vision damage. Your doctor can prescribe a treatment plan that will help keep your eyes comfortable and healthy and prevent any damage to your vision.
The most common treatment used to treat and manage dry eyes is to add artificial tears to the eyes by artificial tear solution. These are often sold over-the-counter although there are also prescription medications available. Other common treatment options include increasing tear production, conserving the natural tears, and reducing inflammation on the cornea or in the eyelids.
Omega 3 Benefits
Eat seafood with Omega -3’s. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in cold-water fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel and sardines, may help lower the risk of dry eyes and eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts. If you don’t like seafood, consider taking fish oil supplements or other supplements that contain omega 3’s such as black current seed or flaxseed oils.
Omega 3 vitamins are very well-known to be good for general health, and heart health, but they are also helpful in treating dry eyes. We recommend at least 3 grams a day of Omega 3. There are a number of commercially available products.
The one we carry in the office, made by PRN works very well, but certainly any of the Omega 3’s that are available are helpful in reducing the symptoms of dry eyes.
- The Right Form and Serving. 4 softgels per day of our patent pending Dry Eye Omega Benefits® provides 2-3 grams of Omega-3s in the re-esterified triglyceride form (rTG).*
- Heart healthy benefits. 2-3 grams of Omega-3s per day has been shown to provide heart-healthy benefits.*
- Safe. This product offers an effective and safe way to increase your omega-3 intake.*
- Third party tested for purity. Dry Eye Omega Benefits® is third party tested for over 400 contaminants. Our unique molecular distillation process guarantees the removal of significantly more PCBs (known carcinogens) than non-molecularly distilled omega-3 products commonly found over the counter.
If a patient’s case of dry eyes is mild, the doctor may prescribe over-the-counter artificial tears. These are used throughout the day to help a patient manage their dry eyes and to supplement their own tear production. Most doctors recommend artificial tear solutions which are preservative-free since any type of additive may irritate the eyes.
Increasing Tear Production
Another treatment option for dry eyes is to increase the patient’s tear production. This is usually done with prescription eye drops. The doctor may also recommend the patient take an omega-3 supplement.
The doctor may try to reduce a patient’s tear evaporation. This helps keep their tears in their eyes longer. This can be accomplished by blocking the tear ducts using a plug made from gel or silicone. If this doesn’t work, the doctor may recommend a surgical procedure to close the tear ducts permanently.
When over the counter eye drops don’t work, a Dr. Bassiri might suggest a prescription eye drop. One of the most common ones is called Restasis.
While most over the counter eyedrops simply moisten the surface of the eye, Restasis does more. As part of its chemical makeup, it contains an agent that actually addresses the inflammation that occurs due to dry eye syndrome. It also helps your body to produce tears naturally.
That said, keep in mind that you may not see immediate results from this medication. It can take a full 90 days before you start seeing significant results.
There’s also a risk of feeling a burning sensation in the eyes for the first few weeks.
Another prescription eye medication that can help is Xiidra, which received FDA approval in July 2016. It’s also designed to reduce inflammation, similar to Restasis.
Xiidra has quite a bit of research behind it. 1,181 people participated in four different 12 week long clinical trials. These participants were evaluated closely for any symptoms from dry eyes before the trial and then received regular check ups.
In two of the studies, there was a noticeable reduction in dry eye symptoms after only two weeks. All four showed significant reductions in symptoms after six and 12 weeks.
The study did check for the placebo effect, and it was found that there was a statistically significant amount of reduction when compared to the Xiidra users.
5 to 25 percent of participants experienced some or all of the following symptoms: Reduced visual acuity, altered taste sensation, and eye irritation.
Even so, Xiidra often works quicker than Restasis, so some doctors will prescribe it instead.
Steroid Eye Drops
As medical science has advanced, doctors have taken note of how often inflammation is a primary cause of dry eyes. Inflammation is generally the cause of redness and burning sensations, but at times there’s inflammation that has no visible symptoms what so ever.
Since over the counter eye drops don’t address the problem with inflammation, doctors will sometimes recommend steroid eye drops.
These are generally intended for short term use. They work quickly to deal with the inflammation. Often they’re used together with both over the counter drops and prescription drops, though doctors may prescribe the use of only one of those three.
In general, the effects of steroid eye drops won’t be found outside of the eyes. There’s simply not enough of the liquid for the body to absorb. Even so, make sure you discuss any medical history you have with your doctor before you start using steroid eye drops.
There are a large variety of steroid eye drops, most of which differ in potency rather than design. Your doctor is likely to start with lower-potency eye drops. That way the steroids are degraded quickly once they reach the eyes. If the lower-potency drops don’t work, doctors may prescribe stronger eye drops.
The risks associated with steroid eye drops are severe, including cataracts and high eye pressure if they’re used for longer than prescribed. As long as you’re taking them as the doctor directs, you shouldn’t have a problem. If you do notice any problems, such as a throbbing sensation in your eyes or a burning sensation that won’t go away, discontinue use and talk to your doctor immediately. They may need to prescribe a different drug, or they may have to use alternative treatments such as surgical procedures.
Another solution to your chronic dry eyes could be punctal plugs.
If you wear contact lenses
If you wear contact lenses, be aware that many artificial tears cannot be used during contact lens wear. You may need to remove your lenses before using the drops. Wait 15 minutes or longer (check the label) before reinserting them. For mild dry eye, contact lens rewetting drops may be sufficient to make your eyes feel better, but the effect is usually only temporary. Switching to another lens brand could also help.
Check the label, but better yet, check with your doctor before buying any over-the-counter eye drops. Your eye doctor will know which formulas are effective and long-lasting and which are not, as well as which eye drops will work with your contact lenses.
To reduce the effects of sun, wind and dust on dry eyes, wear sunglasses when outdoors. Wraparound styles offer the best protection.
Indoors, an air cleaner can filter out dust and other particles from the air, while a humidifier adds moisture to air that’s too dry because of air conditioning or heating.
For more significant cases of dry eye, your eye doctor may recommend punctal plugs. These tiny devices are inserted in ducts in your lids to slow the drainage of tears away from your eyes, thereby keeping your eyes more moist.
If your dry eye is caused by meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), your doctor may recommend warm compresses and suggest an in-office procedure to clear the blocked glands and restore normal function.
If medications are the cause of dry eyes, discontinuing the drug generally resolves the problem. But in this case, the benefits of the drug must be weighed against the side effect of dry eyes. Sometimes switching to a different type of medication alleviates the dry eye symptoms while keeping the needed treatment. In any case, never switch or discontinue your medications without consulting with your doctor first.
Treating any underlying eyelid disease, such as blepharitis, helps as well. This may call for antibiotic or steroid drops, plus frequent eyelid scrubs with an antibacterial shampoo.
If you are considering LASIK, be aware that dry eyes may disqualify you for the surgery, at least until your dry eye condition is successfully treated. Dry eyes increase your risk for poor healing after LASIK, so most surgeons will want to treat the dry eyes first, to ensure a good LASIK outcome. This goes for other types of vision correction surgery, as well.