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Dry eye syndrome affects millions of Americans and symptoms can range from occasional, mild irritation to more debilitating and stubborn impacts on your daily life. Each time you blink your eyes, tears spread across the surface of the cornea. Tears exist to provide lubrication to the eye, reduce the risk of infection and to wash away foreign matter in the eye. Excess tears drain out of the eye through small drainage ducts in the inner corners of the eyelid. Dry eyes occur when tear production and drainage are out of balance. People with dry eyes either do not produce good quality tears, or they simply do not produce enough tears.

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Symptoms of Dry Eye

Those with dry eye will experience symptoms such as:

  • Irritation
  • Scratchy or burning eyes
  • Foreign body sensation
  • Excess watering
  • Blurry or fluctuating vision

What are the risk factors of dry eye syndrome?

Dry eye can be the result of quite a few things, including:

  • Aging: Dry eyes are common as we reach our middle and later years.
  • Gender: Women are more likely to experience dry eye mainly due to hormonal changes.
  • Medical conditions: Those who have diabetes, thyroid problems and rheumatic conditions are more likely to experience dry eye syndrome. Blepharitis, another common eye disease, is also often accompanied by dry eye syndrome.
  • Environmental conditions: Exposure to wind, smoke and dry climates can greatly increase tear evaporation, causing dry eye symptoms. Prolonged computer use can also take its toll on the eyes, as people blink much less when staring at a screen.

Dry Eye Treatments

Dry eyes can be a very frustrating, chronic condition. At Malouf Eye Center, we typically incorporate a stepwise, customized approach to treating dry eyes. Every patient is different and all eyes respond differently to treatments. As such, there is no "one size fits all" treatment for dry eyes. But there are a variety of treatments available to help manage the symptoms of dry eyes. The main goal of treatment is either to:

  1. Conserve the eye's natural tears
  2. Increase/augment the eye's tear production

Below are some of the methods we incorporate to help free you of the frustrating dry eye symptoms and improve the quality of your life: 

Punctal Plugs

This treatment involves plugging the tear ducts with a tiny silicone device called a punctal plug. This helps to stop your natural tears from draining away and allows them to linger longer around the surface of your eyes, helping to lubricate and moisturize them better.

Punctal plugs are so tiny, they can barely be seen with the naked eye and you won't even know they are there. The procedure takes only a few seconds and is painless. Punctal plugs are also covered by most insurances.

Lifestyle Modification

Certain habits may be making your dry eyes worse and simply modifying your behaviors and environment may considerably help with the symptoms of dry eyes. 

Artificial Tears

Some dry eyes can be managed simply by using over-the-counter artificial tears on a regular basis, especially if you stare at a computer all day.

Vitamin Supplementation 

There is some evidence that certain vitamins, especially omega-3 fatty acids, may help with dry eyes.

Medication Management

Certain medications, like antihistamines and certain blood pressure medications, might be exacerbating your dry eyes. We will review your entire health history and work with your primary care doctor to consider changing some of your medications if needed.

Eyelid Hygiene

Various products can be used to clean the eyelids and open up the pores at the eyelid margin which may be blocked, preventing your body for properly secreting tears. By unblocking these pores, this helps your eyes produce more and better quality tears.

Prescription Medications

We have a variety of prescription eye drops that can be used to help your body produce more tears. These eye drops are safe and very effective in treating dry eye syndrome. Some examples include: Restasis, Xiidra and Cequa. If deemed necessary, your doctor will help determine which medicine might be best for your eyes.

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