What is the Treatment for dry eye
Once dry eye has been diagnosed your ophthalmologist may look for the underlying cause of dry eye. If this involves a medical disease such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus he may work in coordination with your medical doctor to optimise the treatment of your conditions. In addition ophthalmologists use the following methods to maintain the health and comfort of the eye itself.
Preservative-free eye drops are preferable; many topical eye medications contain preservatives such as benzalkonium chloride that irritate the eye when used frequently or over long periods of time. Artificial tears can be used several times a day to maintain a lubricated eye. Those containing sodium hyaluronate, a naturally occurring molecule in many human tissue fluids, are considered the most effective by many.
Conserving your tears:
Preventing drainage of your tears by blocking the ducts that drain the eye is the method of conserving your eyes’ own tears. Your ophthalmologist may close these channels with punctal plugs or permanently with heat to seal the lacrimal canaliculus shut. This method conserves your own tears and makes artificial tears last longer. Please note that any source of inflammation on the ocular surface must be treated first, otherwise inflammatory proteins such as cytokines and proteases will continue to damage the surface epithelium.
Reducing the evaporation of tears may be achieved by controlling environmental conditions that can affect dry eye such as humidity and temperature. A person with dry eye should avoid any conditions that may exacerbate dryness such as smoke exposure, dry air, and excessive wind. This can be accomplished with the use of humidifiers and moisture chamber glasses to reduce the drying effect of the wind.
Your ophthalmologist may suggest that you use a prescription medication if the above methods do not provide adequate relief. Pilocarpine works to lubricate the eye by stimulating your own tear production and is available in tablet form (“Salagen“). Steroid eye drops may also be used to reduce eye inflammation, but are generally not recommended for long-term treatment. Tetracyclines reduce inflammation of the ocular surface. Cyclosporine is not licensed for human use in the UK but has been used for many years around the world and is the most effective medication in reducing symptoms of dry eye, even in dogs.
Chronic blepharitis can worsen symptoms of dry eye. Anterior blepharitis can be treated by removing skin debris that accumulates at the root of the eyelashes, with a cotton bud dipped in a mild alkali solution such as Baking Soda/Bicarbonate of Soda, or with an automated lid scrub (“Blephex“). Posterior blepharitis (Meibomian gland disease or MGD) can be treated by using a Maskin probe to open the Meibomian glands. Eyebags are also very effective at melting wax and oils stuck in inflamed Meibomian glands. These are specially designed bags full of seeds that can be heated in a microwave as a warm compress and have been shown to significantly reduce symptoms when used regularly.
Recent trials have also found that patients supplementing their diets with omega-3 fatty acids had a significant reduction in symptoms of dry eye.