Though dry eyes are something that can be experienced by anyone, it is important to be fully aware regarding the real explanation behind this discomfort. How come this is a very common ailment for most people? What is the best way to handle this situation.
Dry eyes are a result of the lack of sufficient tears which will lubricate the front area of the eyes. Ideally, the thin layer of tears should lubricate the entire surface of the eyes when the person blinks. Good quality tears should have ample amount of lipids or fatty compound so that it would not evaporate quickly. The tear glands should be responsible in producing enough amount of tears so that dry eyes would not be triggered. If one of the aspects in tear production would not work properly, then dryness of the eyes can be felt.
In Australia recently a group of frustrated dry eye patients have set up their own website http://australiandryeye.webs.com/
It has one of the most extensive list of treatments possible for dry eyes that we have seen. For a group of lay people to go to this much trouble about dry eyes, just proves to us how important it is to take dry eyes seriously.
Why does it need immediate attention?
Like any other irregularity in the body, dry eyes also have to be remedied. As it becomes worse, the symptoms would also escalate and among which include:
• Pain when blinking
• Gritty feeling inside the eyes
• Eye redness
• Inability to endure wearing the contact lenses
Can it become worse over time?
The case of dry eyes from one person to another may vary a lot. Aside from that, the causes can also be very dissimilar. Among the reasons which trigger this problem include menopausal of women, old age, trauma to the eyes, dry climate, taking medications such as contraceptives, antihistamine and others.
More recent studies though have focused on the chronic dry eyes or CDE. This could lead to more serious discomfort and it is really important to set an appointment with an optometrist specialising in dry eyes. On top of the usual signs, patients with CDE can experience the following:
• Stinging or burning sensation in the eyes
• Headaches are more commonly reported among chronic dry eye sufferers.
• Being highly sensitive even to low-key lighting
• Having blurry vision and difficulty in seeing at night
• Incessant itchiness
• The dryness occur more often than usual
Can Chronic Dry Eye still be treated?
Optometrists would need to perform several tests before prescribing the right treatment for chronic dry eyes. In some cases, they can only give remedies because the problem does not really call for any serious procedures. Here are some of the common remedies from optometrists:
• Use of artificial tears
• Eye Mist Sprays are significantly more convenient and more effective than artificial tears.
• Restructuring the tear ducts to preserve sufficient amount of tears in the eye’s surface. This is also called as punctual occlusion. It means that the two canals which drain the eyes of excessive tears would be narrowed or closed. Optometrists would temporarily plug these ducts to ensure if it would help the patient. If it works, then the optometrist can use permanent punctal plugs (which is preferable as they can be removed) or refer to an oculoplastic surgeon to cauterise the drains.
• Gel for eye care can also be prescribed if the typical eye drops no longer work. This has longer retention which can prevent dryness more efficiently.
• Ointments are often prescribed by doctors for night use only. When a person sleeps, the lubricant which should be in the eye’s surface can also evaporate. The ointment would prevent excessive evaporation of tears.
• The reality though is for the chronic patient more specialised care is required:
Meibomian gland expression
Corticosteroids and Cyclosporine
Scleral Contact Lenses
These are just some of the more specialised treatments that can be considered.
Call us at the Eye Practice and make an appointment to see Dr Jim Kokkinakis on (02) 9290 1899.