The diagnosis and ongoing management of dry eyes can be very challenging. Our Cleveland eye specialists are happy to explain the challenges of dry eye management during a consultation or eye exam at one of our offices.
Dry Eyes Still Produce Tears
Dry eyes can be tearing frequently, but they might be dry! At first look, this might seem strange. However, if eyes are irritated because of excessive dryness, they will stimulate “reflex” tearing. The tearing is insufficient to relieve irritation so the following dry eye symptoms arise: scratchy eyes, irritated eyes, or red eye appearance. Remember that “water flows off a duck’s back.” The duck is in water, but his feathers don’t get soggy. The feathers don’t “wet” well.
The tear film is composed of three elements: oil, water, and mucus. Oil is secreted by glands in the eyelid, water is pumped onto the eye by a lacrimal gland, and mucus is made by mucus membranes. This might seem to be more detailed than the average patient would want to know. However, this practical approach customizes treatment to the tear deficiency.
Primary Dry Eyes
Many will have “primary” dry eyes. This means that they are making an insufficient quantity of the water component. In this case our Cleveland eye specialists usually find frequent application of artificial tears most helpful. Avoiding drafts and dust can help as well. During a Cleveland winter, we can expect homes to be heated, dry, and even whole-house humidifiers barely have an impact on improving moisture in the air. In the summer, air conditioning reduces humidity too.
Dry eyes are more prone to being irritated by chemicals and pollutants, etc, because there is not that much tear flow to wash away irritants. Thus, irritants have more time in contact with delicate eye tissues. Contact lens wearers, especially must have generous tear films, or use re-wetting drops.
Essentially, oil and water do not mix well – even on the eye. Our eye specialists stress how the relative components must be carefully balanced for best comfort and best vision.
Treatments for Dry Eyes
The most common dry eye treatment for the problems of decreased “water” is frequent artificial tears, over the counter available. Some artificial tear brands are “non-preserved” and avoiding preservatives can be helpful for some patients, particularly those who must put the tear drops in very often
If tears alone don’t resolve symptoms, an eye exam is appropriate to choose among many more options to improve comfort, appearance, and vision.
Dry Eye Procedures
Several procedures are available for severe dry eye ranging from Punctal Occlusion to Tarsorrhaphy. Any of the eye specialists in our eye centers throughout the Cleveland area can provide a consultation or eye exam to ensure you’re satisfied with your dry eye management and eye care options. Contact us to set up an appointment at your convenience.