Do your eyes often feel dry, itchy, or overly watery? Although these symptoms seem widely different, they are all possible signs of a chronic condition called dry eye syndrome.
At Blaine Eye Clinic, you’ll find that our talented team is experienced in diagnosing and treating dry eye syndrome and other eye conditions.
What is Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry eye syndrome is a chronic eye condition that affects millions of people. It occurs when your tears are not able to provide adequate lubrication or moisture for your eyes.
Your risk of developing dry eyes increases as you get older. When left untreated, dry eyes can affect your ability to see and can even cause permanent damage.
Causes of Dry Eye Syndrome
Many things can cause dry eye syndrome, like your working environment, certain medications, or even the weather. But the leading causes of dry eye syndrome are if you aren’t producing enough tears or the tears that are produced are low in quality.
Your eyes have a tear film. The tear film is how the eyes create tears, keep the eye moisturized, wash away any foreign particles, and keep the surface of your eye clear and smooth. There are three layers in the tear film:
- A mucus layer on the inside allows the watery layer to spread evenly across the surface of the eye while keeping the eye well-lubricated. It also nourishes the cornea, helping your tears stick to the eye’s surface.
- A water layer in the middle lubricates the eye while washing away foreign particles and preventing infection.
- An oily layer on the outside is oil or lipid-based and seals the tear film to reduce the evaporation of tears.
If any of the tear film components are not functioning as they should, then you may start experiencing symptoms of dry eye syndrome. The three layers of the tear film work together to keep your eyes healthy and comfortable, as well as allow for clear vision.
Symptoms of Dry Eye Syndrome
If you have dry eye syndrome, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Mucus in or around your eyes
- Excess watering
- Finding it difficult or impossible to wear contact lenses
- Increased light sensitivity
- Foreign body sensation where it feels like there’s something in your eye
- Nighttime driving becomes more challenging (glare)
- Blurry vision, especially while reading or performing computer work
If you have dry eye syndrome, you may experience only one of these symptoms, or you may experience several of them. Each patient is different, including which symptoms affect them.
Diagnosing and Treating Dry Eyes
If you think you may have dry eyes, you can try things like drinking more water, using a humidifier, or increasing the amount of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet for relief. But for most people, the best solution is to see an eye doctor.
Your eye doctor at Blaine Eye Clinic can diagnose and treat dry eye syndrome once they understand its root cause. At Blaine Eye Clinic, we’re here to help you find the relief you need from dry eyes. We offer the following options:
TearLab is a diagnostic test that measures the osmolarity of your tears. Tear osmolarity helps identify how much salt is in your tears.
If you have a normal amount of salt in your tears, it’s a good indicator that you’re producing enough tears that are high enough quality and they aren’t evaporating from the surface of your eye too quickly. But if you have too much salt in your tears (called hyperosmolarity), it’s often an indicator that you may have dry eye syndrome.
Hyperosmolarity may show that your tear film is unstable or missing necessary components. With TearLab, your eye doctor can quickly determine your tear osmolarity and receive precise and predictive results.
In as little as 30 seconds, your eye doctor can detect the early signs of dry eye syndrome. From there, they can develop a treatment plan to improve your symptoms.
Another method for determining if you have dry eyes and what’s causing them is InflammaDry. InflammaDry is the first and only rapid result in-office test that can detect elevated levels of MMP-9.
MMP-9 is an inflammatory marker often elevated in patients with dry eye syndrome. This inflammatory marker is often missed because other dry eye tests only measure the production and stability of your tears.
Many patients with dry eye syndrome often experience inflammation before showing other signs of dry eye syndrome. InflammaDry uses a simple 4-step process to diagnose dry eye effectively in only ten minutes.
One of the newest dry eye treatments available to patients is OptiLight. OptiLight is the only intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy to receive FDA approval for managing and treating dry eye syndrome.
Patients that have OptiLight receive four sessions, spaced out between 2-4 weeks. Each session only takes about 10-15 minutes to complete.
The treatment is applied to the skin below your eyes during the sessions and is not invasive. The certified specialists will cover your eyes with protective eye shields.
They will then apply a thin layer of coupling gel to the area you’re receiving treatment. During your treatments, you may experience a warming experience as you feel light applied to your skin.
OptiLight treatments are gentle, allowing you to return to your typical activities, including applying makeup immediately. Patients may start to see improvement by the second or third OptiLight session.
After receiving OptiLight, you might be able to reduce your dependency on eye drops. The treatment also targets multiple key contributors to the cause of dry eyes to give patients lasting results.
Part of the success behind OptiLight is Lumenis’ patented technology, OPT (Optimal Pulse Technology). It allows a highly targeted, precise, controlled treatment that helps stop the cycle of inflammation that many patients with dry eye syndrome suffer from. It targets inflammation by reducing contributors such as abnormal blood vessels and Demodex mites.
OptiLight helps return proper function to the meibomian glands and helps keep the tear film from evaporating too quickly. Not all patients with dry eye syndrome are suitable for OptiLight treatment, so talk to your eye doctor to learn more about your options.
Do you want to treat your dry eyes?