Diagnosis of Dry Eyes
The proper diagnosis of dry eyes requires a thorough dry eye examination and consultation. The doctors at The Eye Center will take time to review your medical history, eye history, and eye conditions. They will also ask about any prescribed or over the counter medications that you are taking.
Next, we will evaluate your tear production by using a specialized microscopic technique to observe the height of the tear film. We will also use a Schirmer Test to measure the rate at which you produce natural tears. Further, we may use specially formulated dyes to help investigate the functioning of the various layers of the tear film. This is not uncomfortable and will not interfere with your vision.
From this information, we will make a proper diagnosis as to the particular cause of your dry eyes, and prescribe the necessary tear substitutes, eye drops, or other options to help restore your tear film back to normal,
Treatment of Dry Eyes
Depending on the severity and the cause of your dry eyes, we may recommend a number of different treatment options.
If you have mild to moderate dry eyes, the first course of treatment is to use non-preserved artificial tears. The selection of this artificial tear drop is important. Depending on the specific nature of your tear film deficiency, we may suggest different types of artificial tears, each with different levels of salt content and viscosity. For patients with severe dry eyes, we offer serum tears at our office. The process for serum tears includes drawing a tube of your blood and then separating the red blood cells from the plasma. We will then mix the plasma with artificial tears. Many patients with severe dry eyes find relief and improvement in their symptoms.
Alternative Treatment for Dry Eyes
Aside from artificial tears and drops, there are a few remedies you can try out yourself to relieve your dry eyes. Using compresses on the upper and lower eyelids may help stimulate tear production. You can use a warm washcloth, or try reusable heat eye compresses that are available for purchase at our office. In addition, there may be some external environmental factors that you can alter. For example, paying attention to how and where you are exposed to heat ducts and fans, and making sure there is enough moisture in the air around you. A humidifier can all help alleviate your dry eyes as well.
Sometimes, if the oily layer of the tear film is deficient, we may suggest that you increase your consumption of oily fish, fish oil supplements or flax seed oil. Most likely you will be asked to drink plenty of water.
In instances where these approaches do not help relieve your dry eye symptoms, the doctors may suggest the insertion of tiny punctal plugs. These plugs will slow down or stop the drainage of tears from the eye. Punctal plugs are easily and comfortably placed in the Lacrimal Puncta in your eyelids. Initially we may try a temporary dissolving plug to see if your dry eye symptoms are responsive to this treatment. If the results are good, we will place a more permanent plug in the Lacrimal Puncta to affect a long-term solution.
Prescription Eye Drops
For patients with moderate to severe dry eyes who have already tried using artificial tear eye drops and punctal plugs without relief, the prescription of Restasis or Xiidra eye drops with or without the other treatments can often help alleviate your symptoms.
Even with the above treatment options, there are some patients that may not respond as well as we would like. This is due to some underlying low-grade inflammatory or infectious process. In these cases, it may be necessary to also prescribe an oral antibiotic or anti-inflammatory eye drop.
As you can see, the diagnosis and treatment of dry eyes is complex. With careful diagnosis and a systematic therapeutic approach, sufferers of dry eye syndrome can most often experience considerable improvement.
To learn more about Dry Eyes at The Eye Center, click the link below:
The Eye Center provides diagnosis & treatment of dry eyes. Call 303-777-5455 to learn more about dry eye syndrome or to schedule an eye exam for dry eyes.