It can be frustrating and painful when you have dry eyes. We’re not just talking about having dry eyes from being tired — although that can be uncomfortable enough. Dry eye is actually a chronic condition that can develop when your eyes can’t produce enough tears to make a healthy tear film. This can lead to not just dry and painful eyes, but blurred vision and light sensitivity, too.
At Beverly Hills Institute of Ophthalmology, we treat dry eye effectively. Here are some of the causes of this painful condition, as well as your treatment options.
Understanding the causes of dry eye can help with treatment
There are many reasons why you might develop dry eye. As you get older, you’ll find that your tear production naturally reduces and your eyes get dry more easily. However, chronic dry eye can be caused by:
- Certain medications
- A consistently dry environment, due to factors like dust or smoke
- Eye surgery
- Not blinking enough when using electronic gadgets
- Underlying medical conditions, such as thyroid problems and autoimmune conditions
- Using contact lenses regularly
All these factors can contribute to that painful burning and uncomfortable grittiness you’re familiar with, also known as dry eye. While you might think you can put up with the discomfort, leaving dry eye untreated can cause infection and other issues with your eyes, such as damage to your corneas and difficulties with your vision.
Conservative dry eye treatments are the first port of call
A medication- and lifestyle-based approach to treating dry eye is the non-surgical option for managing this condition and increasing tear production in your eyes. For most people, this is enough to reduce symptoms and relieve the pain and discomfort that dry eye can cause.
Artificial tears can be used to replace your natural tears and restore moisture to your eyes. Prescription eye drops will also increase the tears that your eyes produce every day. Some dietary supplements can be useful in improving natural tear production as well, like omega-3 fatty acids.
If your dry eye is caused by medication, then consulting with your health practitioners and trying alternative medications can reduce or even remove the cause of your dry eye. Similarly, if an underlying health condition is to blame, alternative treatment options are available.
Sometimes surgical treatment is the only option for treating dry eye
There are occasions when artificial tears and other conservative approaches aren’t enough to treat your dry eye, and surgery becomes the best treatment for the condition. One surgical technique is to block your tear ducts with punctal plugs. These are tiny silicone plugs that close your tear ducts to prevent your tears from draining away, so they remain in your eye to keep your tear film healthy and intact.
If punctal plugs are too irritating for your eyes or can’t provide the long-term relief from dry eye that you’re looking for, then an alternative surgical approach — permanently closing your tear ducts — may be the answer. This is a more invasive form of eye surgery that uses heat to seal your tear ducts shut permanently, which stops your natural tears from draining away.
Treating dry eye can relieve pain and discomfort, as well as prevent permanent damage to your eyes. If you’re interested in exploring treatment options for dry eyes, schedule your appointment with us today.