Dry Eye Disease is a chronic eye condition caused by either not enough tears or tears that do not stay long on the surface of the eye or both. If the dry eye disease is left untreated, it may cause damage of the surface of the eye (cornea).
Dry Eye Disease is frequently associated with Blepharitis, a dandruff of the eyelashes causing inflammation of the eyelids. Blepharitis is one of the most common disorders of the eye and is often the underlying reason for eye discomfort, redness and tearing. Blepharitis is a chronic disease for which there is no cure, and requires long-term treatment to keep it under control.
Symptoms of Dry eyes/ Blepharitis
- Eye Discomfort: stinging, burning, sensitivity to light, itching, sandy, gritty or foreign body sensation.
- Blurry Vision on/off
- Watery Eyes on/off
- Red Eye on/off
- Crusting of the eyelashes
Contact lens, older age, perimenopause, antihistamines, antidepressants, smoking, refractive surgery, any eye surgery in the first 3 months.
Factors that may worsen your disease;
Wind, air travel, winter, extremely dry areas of the world, watching T.V., reading a book.
Treatment of Dry eyes
You do not need a prescription for artificial tears, you can find them over the counter. You may try different types of tears until you find the best combination for you.
- Preservative artificial tears – apply 1 drop in each eye up to 4-6 times a day. If not sufficient then....
- Non preservative artificial tears – apply 1 drop in each eye up to 8-10 times a day.
Gel – apply at bed time (it gives you blurry vision during the day)
Warm Compresses and eyelid massages
Warm Compresses and eyelid massages are the most critical element of effective blepharitis control. This therapy removes the eyelid debris (which can be colonized by bacteria), reduces the bacteria load (mechanically as well as by lysis of bacteria due to detergent action of the soap in lid scrubbing) and stabilizes the tear film by releasing oily secretions from the meibomian glands, thus reducing tear evaporation (so the dry eye symptoms are also reduced).
Turn on hot water, put a clean facecloth under the water, check the temperature on your hand not to burn yourself or the skin, put the facecloth on your eyes, and massage your eyelids. Place the warm compress over both eyes for 5 minutes at bed time. If the facecloth has cooled off, rewarm it as necessary to keep it warm throughout the 5 minutes.
You can use an eye mask heated in the microwave.
Lid Hygiene - Clean your eyelids with warm washcloth, makeup remover pads or pre-packaged lid scrubs.
Omega 3 Fatty Acid - Salmon, or supplements such as fish oil capsules - 1 tablet 2-4 times a day with a meal. If liquid is available then 1 teaspoon.
Other treatment that needs to be prescribed by the doctor:
- Erytohromycin ointment
- Restasis – it may take up to 3 months to have an effect.
- Serum tears
- Other: Sunglasses, Goggles, Humidifier