There are lots of different conditions that can affect the health and function of our eyes, with some more serious than others. Dry eyes might not cause any serious damage to our eyesight, but it is a very common and often unpleasant and irritating condition. Dry eyes occur when there’s a problem with the tear film that usually coats the surface of our eyes. This tear film keeps the eyes moist, hydrated, and comfortable. Patients with dry eyes may not make enough tear film, the balance of components might be off, or the tear film might be draining from the eyes too quickly. Each of these issues results in the symptoms of dry eyes.
You might be suffering from dry eyes if you experience any of the following:
Eyes that feel stiff and uncomfortable
The sensation that there is something in your eye
Sensitivity to light
Difficulty wearing your contact lenses
Fortunately, there are a number of treatments that can help to combat the symptoms of dry eyes. Some of the most popular include the following:
The meibomian glands are responsible for producing the oil that forms an essential part of our tear film. The other components are water and proteins. These elements must all be balanced for the tear film to be effective. If the meibomian glands become blocked, there won’t be enough oil in your tear film, and this can affect its quality.
Meibomian gland expression is a technique designed to remove blockages, which are typically caused by hardened lumps of oil. Light pressure is applied to the glands, either using the hands or small instruments, and this forces the blockages out and enables the oil to form part of the tear film again. Beforehand, your eye doctor may have placed a warm compress over your eyes for several minutes or more. This helps to soften hard deposits so that they can be removed from the glands more easily.
As we know, sometimes dry eye is caused by tear film leaving the surface of the eye too quickly. If this is the cause of your dry eyes, you may be recommended to try a treatment known as punctal plugs. Punctal plugs are small, biocompatible devices no larger than a grain of rice. They can be made from collagen or silicone depending on which type you choose and are inserted into the drainage channels in the corners of the eye to prevent the tear film from draining away too fast. This keeps it on the surface of the eyes so that they are hydrated, and the symptoms of dry eyes are alleviated.
The process to place punctal plugs is minimally invasive, and a topical anesthetic is usually provided ahead of the procedure. There’s no downtime and depending on which type of punctal plug you choose, they may dissolve over time or last for a number of years.
People take supplements for many reasons, including to improve the health and condition of their eyes. There are a number of supplements that have been shown to help counteract the symptoms of dry eyes. Some of those which you may be recommended could include:
Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 can usually be found in oily fish, nuts and seeds, and leafy, green vegetables. However, you’d need to consume large quantities to obtain the amount needed to make a real difference to the health of your eyes, so supplements may be your best bet. Omega-3 works by reducing inflammation, which is often seen on the eyelids, tear glands, and the surface of the eyes themselves in patients with dry eyes.
Lutein and Zeaxanthin. These antioxidants are found in eggs and leafy greens, but again, not in the quantities that you need to boost your eye health. Fortunately, they are available as supplements and can reduce your risk of many chronic eye conditions, including dry eyes.
Vitamin C. Vitamin C is another powerful antioxidant that can be found in fruits and vegetables and is good for overall eye health, helping to prevent many eye diseases and reducing the effects of dry eyes.
Zinc. Zinc is an important mineral that protects your eyes from harm. However, since our bodies can’t produce it naturally, we need to obtain it through foods and supplements. Zinc can be found in beef, yogurt, salmon, milk, and eggs as well as in supplement form.
If you have dry eyes and would like to find out more about the treatments that are available, please contact our office and schedule an appointment with our knowledgeable team in San Bernardino, CA.