Have you heard? July is dry eye disease awareness month! Dry eye disease is one of the most common ocular problems affecting the general population today. In fact, more than 40 million people in the USA suffer from the sometimes debilitating problem. Additionally, less than 5% of the dry eye disease patient population has been properly diagnosed and treated, according to HealthCare Maintenance Organizations data.
Depending on the causes of dry eye, we may use various approaches to relieve the symptoms.
Dry eye can be managed as an ongoing condition. The first priority is to determine if a disease is the underlying cause of the dry eye (such as Sjögren’s syndrome or lacrimal and meibomian gland dysfunction). If it is, then the underlying disease needs to be treated.
If dry eye results from taking a medication, we may recommend switching to a medication that does not cause the dry eye side effect.
If contact lens wear is the problem, we may recommend another type of lens or reducing the number of hours you wear your lenses. In the case of severe dry eye, we may advise you not to wear contact lenses at all.
Some patients also have the option to plug the drainage holes, small circular openings at the inner corners of the eyelids where tears drain from the eye into the nose. Lacrimal plugs, also called punctal plugs, can be inserted painlessly by an eye care professional. The patient usually does not feel them. These plugs are made of silicone or collagen, are reversible, and are a temporary measure. In severe cases, permanent plugs may be considered.
Many patients that suffer from dry eye benefit from supplements or dietary sources (such as tuna fish) or omega-3 fatty acids (especially DHA and EPA) which may decrease symptoms of irritation. The use and dosage of nutritional supplements and vitamins should be discussed with us and your primary care physician.
There is a lot of innovation currently in dry eye care including the use of infrared imaging to evaluate the health of the oil glands in the eyelids. Check out this video we recently made of a machine we're trying out.
If you’re experiencing symptoms of dry eye disease, such as dryness, soreness, burning, grittiness or eye fatigue, schedule a medical evaluation to discuss your options. Call us anytime at (901) 821-8337
We look forward to seeing you!