Dry Eye is not a single entity, but rather is the name for a group of conditions which affect the quality and quantity of tears, and how they coat the surface of the eye. The tear film coating the eye is the first surface that light hits when it enters our eye. Hence, dry eyes not only may cause discomfort, but may also affect the quality of our vision. The tear film also is what a contact lens rests on, so dryness can affect the ability to wear lenses comfortably.
The production, quality, and stickiness of tears are all factors in dry eye, and a complex biologic system is involved, which is not completely understood.
Nevertheless, it is convenient to divide dry eye patients into mild, moderate, and severe. Mild cases are episodic, in certain situations where the eyes are stressed, but not most of the time. Moderate means that the condition occurs a lot, and impacts the lifestyle. Severe is a constant, debilitating form which can be a severe handicap.
Treatments: Tear drops are of various types, and can be used for most dry eye patients. Some are just lubricants, some help tears adhere better to the eye, and some try and improve the ocular health. A unique new type of tear, called RESTASIS, is a prescription drug. It contains a compound called cyclosporine, which alters the immune system in such a way as to increase the actual production of tears. It works for about 75% of patients, especially where there is an inflammatory component. Restasis usually takes 4-8 weeks to begin working, unlike other tears which help at once.
Tear Plugs: Plugs are tiny silicone or polymeric "stoppers" that are placed into the very small holes in our eyelids that act as a drainpipe for tears. Placing these plugs is like putting a stopper in your sink. It is a brief painless office procedure. The purpose of the plug is to prevent the tears from draining away from the eye, thus creating additional lubrication with the natural tears. Plugs come in two forms, dissolvable, and nondissolvable. The dissolvable types are for temporary usage, or to see if nondissolvable plugs will be helpful. The nondissolvable type is intended to be permanent. Occasionally these may come out, and can be replaced, or they can easily be removed if they do too good a job and cause excess tearing.
Omega-3 fatty acids, (fish oils) help to stabilize the tear film. We can guide you to the best type to take for dry eye.