Dry Eye Syndrome Causes and Treatment Options
What is Dry Eye Syndrome and What are the Causes?
Have you found that no matter the time of day, your eyes are full of tears or constantly itchy? There are quite a few symptoms of dry eyes, but typically your tear system is irregular causing the symptoms you’re experiencing. Dry eye syndrome (DES) is when an individual doesn’t produce enough quality tears to correctly lubricate eyes. While dry eyes are often a part of the aging process, it affects millions of people.
Dry eye syndrome is known by many names. These include:
- Keratoconjunctivitis sicca (KCS)
- keratitis sicca
- sicca syndrome
Dry eyes can occur for many reasons, including:
Exposure to environmental allergensThe sun, types of air and climate, altitude, and indoor heating and air conditioners can cause dry eyes.
Health conditionsPeople with arthritis and diabetes are more prone to having dry eye.
Age & genderDry eyes are especially common in the older population and in women. During or after menopause, women often experience dry eye syndrome since there is a decrease in hormone levels. Pregnancy, menstruation and the use of birth control are additional hormone-altering contributions to dry eye syndrome.
MedicationsThere are certain medications, including antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications, antidepressants, and anti-anxiety medications that factor in the reduction of tear production.
DiseasesSeveral diseases can cause dry eyes, including thyroid deficiencies, sjorgens syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune disorders, Bell’s palsy, and myasthenia gravis.
OtherLong-term use of contact lenses and injuries to the eye are factors in reducing eye tears. While having dry eyes is a factor, sometimes an unrecognized sign of dry eye syndrome is excessive tearing as the eyes still feel dry and itchy, but a poor oil layer of the tears causes them to tear continuously.
There are plenty of other factors that can cause dry eyes in individuals, but these are some of the more common ones.
Levels of dry eye
Dry eye syndrome can vary among different people. The three levels include mild, moderate and severe. Depending on the level of dryness you have, you’ll experience different symptoms.
Symptoms of dry eye include the following:
- Sensitivity to light
- Mucus secretion
- Blurred vision
Dry eye is a treatable condition.
- Artificial teardrops
- Long-lasting lubricating gels
- Ointments placed in the eye
- Temporarily or permanently plugging of the tear ducts, in addition to replacing the tears with drops or ointments
- Prescription medication (Restasis/Xiidra/Doxycycline)
- IPL treatment
- Thermi Treatment
Intense Pulsed Light uses light energy to soften dark spots or eliminate red vascular areas on the skin and is also commonly used for hair removal. It has also been used for nearly a decade to treat dry eye symptoms. It is believed to exert an anti-inflammatory effect by reducing small, surface blood vessels around the lid margins. Additionally, the heat generated by the light energy helps to thin the Meibomian gland secretions that are designed to prevent evaporation of the water component of the tear film. We have had great success using IPL for dry eye treatments since 2012. A typical treatment schedule is a monthly session for 3-4 months, followed by maintenance treatments once every 6-12 months as needed. IPL is limited to lightly pigmented skin types as it can cause patchy depigmentation in dark skinned patients.
We are excited about Thermi, our newest addition in the fight against dry eye. Thermi uses radiofrequency energy to stimulate collagen production and smooth surface wrinkles on the skin. It has also been noted to improve dry eye symptoms in patients when utilized around the lids. Since it does not use light energy, it can be used on all types of skin pigmentation.
In order to determine the best treatment, we need to see you for an eye exam and then determine the most appropriate type of treatment listed above. Contact us today to get relief from your dry eye symptoms.