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Dry Eye Treatment

Dry eye is a common condition that occurs when the eyes are insufficiently moisturized, leading to itching, redness, and pain from dry spots on the surface of the eye. The eyes may become dry and irritated because the tear ducts don’t produce enough tears, or because the tears themselves have an improper balance of water, mucus or oil.

Patients with this condition often experience irritating symptoms and can suffer from more serious vision damage if this condition is left untreated. It is important for patients with this condition to take special care of their eyes in order to alleviate symptoms and prevent complications. Your doctor can diagnose dry eye after a thorough evaluation of your eye and tear production through careful slit lamp exam. Also other tests including Fluorescein or other tear dyes, and sometimes a Schirmer test or even osmolarity determination may be performed.

Causes of Dry Eye

People usually begin experiencing dry eye symptoms as they age, but the condition can also result from certain medications, conditions or injuries. Dry eye tends to affect women more often than men, as the hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy, menopause and with the effects of oral contraceptives can affect the consistency of tears. It is also more common in people over the age of 50. Other causes may include:

  • Medications such as antihistamines, oral contraceptives, blood pressure medications and antidepressants
  • Conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, diabetes and thyroid problems
  • Environmental conditions such as smoke, wind, dust and low humidity
  • Long-term contact lens use
  • Refractive surgery
  • Eyelid Disease such as Blepharitis, and Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
  • Skin conditions like Acne Rosacea

These factors can affect the frequency or consistency of tears, both of which can lead to dry eyes. Our natural tears require a certain chemical balance in order to effectively moisturize the eyes.

Symptoms of Dry Eye

Patients with dry eye may experience certain symptoms from this condition, usually affecting both eyes, which may include:

  • Stinging or burning sensation
  • Irritation from smoke or wind
  • Eye fatigue
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Excessive tearing

In addition to being uncomfortable, dry eye can damage eye tissue, scar the cornea and impair vision. Fortunately, many treatment options are available to help relieve symptoms and restore health back to the eyes to ensure clear vision and long-term health.

Focus Eye Group is Chester County’s recognized experts on dry eye and related conditions; contact them at either their Thorndale or Berwyn eye care office today for more information and treatment options.

Treatment for Dry Eyes

Eye Drops for Dry Eye 

Treatment for dry eye depends on the cause and severity of the condition, as well as the patient’s overall health and personal preference. Non-surgical treatments are often effective and may include blinking exercises, increasing humidity at home or work, and use of artificial tears or moisturizing ointment. Prescription eye drops, known as Restasis, are also available to increase tear production and reduce inflammation.

Punctal Plugs for Dry Eye 

Another common and very successful approach to inadequate tear volume is the use of punctal plugs. Small punctual plugs may be inserted in the corners of the eyes to limit tear drainage, or the drainage tubes in the eyes may be surgically closed. Eyelid surgery is also a solution if an eyelid condition is causing your dry eyes. Treating the underlying cause of dry eyes can also help relieve the symptoms of this condition. The doctor will work with each individual to develop a plan that works best for that person.

Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) for Dry Eye

Treating the precise cause of the underlying problem producing dry eyes is the best way to help relieve the annoying systems of these chronic conditions. We offer a powerful and unique answer to the nagging problem of poor oil production: IPL (Intense Pulsed Light). This painless, in office treatment to the face and eyelids, can turn around the stubborn problem at the root of many dry eye patients’ disease, namely Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. Insufficiency of oil from these eyelid glands leads to poor quality, easily evaporated tears. IPL can over the course of several treatments rejuvenate these glands.

LipiFlow for Dry Eye 

LipiFlow is an FDA-approved method for the treatment of dry eye, offered at Focus Eye Group. LipiFlow is used to address dry eye caused by meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD), treating symptoms at the source. MGD occurs when the meibomian glands become blocked over time and are no longer able to produce the oils needed for healthy tears and well-lubricated eyes.

The LipiFlow system applies gentle massaging and heat to the eye to the affected glands, which effectively removes the blockages and promotes healthy oil production. In most cases, LipiFlow provides effective symptom relief for Dry Eye Syndrome.

Check out this LipiFlow testimonial from one of our Berwyn patients! 

Dear Focus Eye Group,

I just had to write to tell you what a wonderful experience I had in your stunning new Berwyn office!  It’s so sunny and beautifully set up! As you know, I came to have a new Lipiflow evaluation and treatment. Your staff is professional and friendly. The whole procedure was completely comfortable. Everyone took plenty of time to explain and discuss everything. I must say, it’s pretty unusual for any medical procedure to be completely and totally comfortable and pain-free, but that is the case with the Lipiflow procedure! I felt fine in the days following the procedure too! I’m really hopeful that this will prevent me from having problems with dry eye, especially given my Rheumatoid Arthritis! Thank you again for your excellent care!

Elizabeth K.

Preventing Dry Eye

There are certain steps patients can take to prevent the symptoms of dry eye from occurring, which are especially useful for those at an increased risk of developing these symptoms. Simple life modifications such as keeping a humidifier at home or at work, wearing glasses on windy days, giving your eyes a break during reading or other strenuous tasks and avoiding smoking can all effectively reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms.

Your doctor will provide you with specific instructions as to how you can specifically avoid symptoms based on your individual condition.

Dry Eye FAQ’s

Dry eye is a common eye condition that is most often treatable with over-the-counter artificial tears. If you are experiencing eye pain beyond mild irritation, however, or if you have dry eye symptoms as a result of an eye injury or procedure, it may be time to schedule an appointment with your eye doctor. Dry eye syndrome needs to be officially diagnosed by an eye care professional before more advanced forms of treatment can be recommended.

Here at Focus Eye Group, our staff of board-certified ophthalmologists and optometrists are proud to provide state-of-the-art dry eye treatment to residents of Chester County. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.

Dry eye syndrome is diagnosed during an exam with an ophthalmologist or optometrist, who may conduct several tests to measure the volume and quality of your tears and determine the root cause of your dry eye. You will also be asked questions about your medical history and lifestyle, which will help to inform a treatment plan that’s tailored to your needs. 

Before your appointment, write down your symptoms and any questions you may have for your doctor. There is no special preparation needed for dry eye exams that include the Schirmer’s test, which measures tear production, or tests that evaluate tear film quality. If you wear contacts, however, make sure to bring your glasses with you to your appointment. You may be asked to keep your contact lenses out for at least two hours after your exam.

Dry eye syndrome is an ongoing eye condition that may be difficult to “cure,” since not all cases of dry eye respond to treatment. Symptoms such as dryness, itching, and burning, however, can typically be managed with over-the-counter eye drops, prescription eye drops, punctal plugs, LipiFlow®, or IPL treatment.

It’s important to note that if dry eye syndrome is not treated, inadequate tear production can lead to an increased risk of eye infection, eye inflammation and corneal abrasions, all of which can result in permanent scarring or vision loss. 

Dry eye syndrome can develop as a result of environmental conditions, eye injuries, surgery complications, prescription medications, extended wear of contact lenses, genetics, and more. Since there are many factors to consider when determining the cause of dry eye syndrome, a comprehensive eye exam is necessary in order for your doctor to recommend the best treatment for you.

There is not one specific brand of eye drops or form of dry eye treatment that is universally beneficial for all cases of dry eye syndrome. The best type of dry eye treatment depends on the severity of the condition, medical history, and lifestyle of the patient. In order to determine which form of treatment is right for you, make an appointment with your eye doctor. 

While it’s not possible to “fix” dry eye syndrome with contacts, you may be able to manage dry eye symptoms by switching the type of contact lenses that you wear. In general, soft, moist contact lenses are the best choice for those who suffer from dry eye. Soft contacts are made to retain moisture and increase the amount of oxygen that enters the eye, which can result in relief from irritation. 

Silicone hydrogel lenses such as Biofinity from CooperVision, Air Optix Aqua from CIBAVision, and Acuvue Moist from Alcon are all specially formulated to provide comfort and relief from dry eye without sacrificing breathability. Additional options are available at either of our two convenient locations. 

Most forms of insurance and Medicare will cover a punctal plug procedure if it is deemed medically necessary by your doctor. In most instances, punctal plugs are not recommended as an initial treatment for dry eyes — the procedure is usually performed when other, less invasive forms of treatment (such as artificial tears) were not successful in providing relief from dry eye syndrome. Most insurance companies will ask for documentation of prior treatment before approving the punctal plug procedure.

Both LipiFlow and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) treatment are not covered by insurance at this time, however, the preparatory exams for both procedures are typically covered.

The full effects of one LipiFlow treatment may last for up to two years, but results vary from patient to patient. For long-term results, repeat treatments may be recommended. Talk to your doctor about whether or not LipiFlow is right for you.

There is some research that suggests adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet can provide relief from dry eye symptoms. Omega-3s can be found in foods like fish and flaxseed but can also be purchased as a liquid or oral supplement. 

Certain lifestyle changes such as avoiding cigarette smoke, limiting exposure to screens, wearing sunglasses in windy environments, and using a humidifier at home can also help reduce irritation caused by dry eye syndrome. 

If you have dry eyes, your candidacy for cataract surgery will be determined by the severity of your condition. If you have chronic dry eye syndrome, your eyes may not produce enough tears to maintain proper moisture levels after cataract removal. In this instance, your doctor may recommend putting your cataract surgery on hold until you undergo dry eye treatment.

No. The corneal incisions made during cataract surgery heal quickly and do not affect tear production. Some medications that are prescribed after cataract surgery, however, may contribute to dry eye symptoms. If you have had cataracts removed and are experiencing dry eyes or irritation, contact your doctor to discuss treatment options