DRY EYE

Many people in Norfolk, Virginia Beach and Chesapeake suffer from dry eye symptoms but don’t realize just how much this condition can affect the quality of their vision. According to our eye doctors, there are a variety of factors that can contribute to dry eye.

A person’s age, medications, medical conditions, job, work environment and nutrition can all change the normal tear film. People who sleep with a fan blowing or with a CPAP machine can experience significant eye dryness, usually more noticeable in the morning. If you notice watery eyes, burning, sandy/gritty feeling, eye fatigue or blurry vision after reading for an extended period of time – you could have dry eyes.

Artificial Tears

Most people with bothersome symptoms start self-treating with over-the-counter drops. The problem here is that most of these drops offer only very temporary relief and some even add to the irritation say our eye doctors! Knowing which drops to use and which to avoid can be daunting as there are an overwhelming number of options. Our eye doctors can make specific recommendations about which type of drop is right for you. Specifically, good hydration and omega 3 fatty acids (such as is found in salmon and certain nuts) will enhance the quality of your tears. Smoking is detrimental to ocular health in general and definitely affects the ocular surface.

Prescription Medications

Dry eye is often associated with inflammation. There are several medications your eye doctor can prescribe for you if necessary. Due to its chronic nature, dry eye should be addressed with an ongoing treatment. Restasis® is a medication designed to help your tear glands to work more efficiently to produce more tears and tears of better quality. This medication actually works on the underlying cause of the problem rather than just helping to mask the symptoms. Steroid eye drops are often used in addition to the Restasis® to decrease inflammation of the eye.

Punctal Occlusion

Closing the puncta (drainage holes in each eyelid through which tears drain) can help to keep your tears on the eye’s surface longer. This can be accomplished temporarily with removable “plugs” or more permanently with cauterization.

Dry eye is very common and can range in severity. If you have any of the symptoms, be sure to discuss them with your eye doctor so that a proper treatment plan can be initiated. The sooner this condition is treated, the better the prognosis for your vision in the future.