Dry Eye

Dry eye syndrome is a general term used to describe patients who lack tears or oil on their eyes. It is becoming more prevalent because of increased time spent on computers and phones.

Excessive screen use leads to decreased blinking, which contributes to blocked oil glands. Oil glands in your eyelids produce your tear film, and a healthy tear film is essential for crisp vision. 

If you aren’t making enough tears or this tear film is lacking, dry eyes result. At Eye Consultants of North Dakota, we offer the latest dry eye treatments to relieve your dry eyes.

What is Dry Eye Syndrome?

Dry eye syndrome is a condition where you have dry eyes year-round. Unlike seasonal or allergy-related dry eyes, it causes dry eyes regardless of external conditions.

If your eyes are not producing enough tears, it makes sense that they will be dry. There are simple ways you can increase the volume of tears you create, like drinking more water.

But the most common cause of dry eye syndrome is a lack of oil in your tears. Tears have three main components, water, mucus, and oil.

Water hydrates your eyes and delivers nutrients to them. Mucus spreads that water across your eyes, ensuring your entire eye gets hydrated.

Tear oil prevents the water from evaporating off the surface of your eye. Without oil, your tears evaporate quickly, causing more tears to flow to your eyes.

This feedback loop causes your eyes to make tears which then evaporate continuously. It results in a situation where your eyes are constantly watering yet are perpetually dry.

How Do You Treat Dry Eye?

There are different treatments for dry eye syndrome depending on the cause of your dry eyes. They range from simple home remedies to medications, in-office treatments, and surgery.

You can undergo multiple treatments if your symptoms persist after one type of treatment. Common dry eye treatments that you could use to treat your chronic dry eyes include:

  • Dry eye medications
  • Punctal plugs
  • Eyelid cleaners
  • Warm compresses
  • Serum tears
  • Over the counter eye drops
  • Surgery
  • Amniotic membranes
  • Specialty contact lenses
  • Lipiflow

These are the full range of treatment options for dry eyes. Depending on the severity of your symptoms and their cause, any or all these could be treatment options.

Dry Eye Medications

Medicines for dry eyes can be eye drops or oral medications. Generally, they work to help stimulate more tear production in your tear glands.

Punctal Plugs

Punctal plugs are a standard treatment option for dry eye syndrome. They get inserted into the drain in your eyes to reduce or prevent tears from draining.

Plugging your eye’s drain helps keep tears on the surface of your eyes longer to nourish and hydrate them. Punctual plugs can be permanent or temporary biodegradable implants.

Eyelid Cleansers

A common cause of chronic dry eyes is debris on your eyelids. This debris can block oil from flowing onto your eyes or can get stuck on your eyes when you blink.

Either way, dirty eyelids can be irritating and cause dry eyes. Keeping your eyelids clean can help to relieve symptoms.

At Eye Consultants of North Dakota, we use Ocusoft and Cliradex to clean your eyelids. Both work to clear your eyelids of mites, pollen, and other contaminants.

Serum Tears

Serum tears are tears made using the clear component of your blood. This fluid can get taken out of your blood after it settles. Because this fluid comes from your body, it has healing properties that other medications do not have.

Over-the-Counter

Over-the-counter eye drops are an excellent way to relieve and prevent symptoms. Use them in the morning and evening to avoid symptoms. And use them throughout the day for quick relief.

Surgical Procedures

Surgery for dry eyes works to seal the drains in your eyes to hold tears in them. Punctual plugs can get inserted during a surgical procedure.

There is also a procedure called punctual occlusion. Punctual occlusion permanently seals the drains in the corner of your eyes to prevent tears from draining.

Amniotic Membranes

Amniotic membranes are a graft of a delicate piece of tissue from another part of your body. They work to heal the surface of your eye.

This tissue graft is especially useful if your dry eyes are from chronic irritation and inflammation on the surface of your eye.

Specialty Contact Lenses

Specialty contact lenses for dry eye are scleral lenses. They are large rigid gas permeable (RGP) lenses that cover the entire surface of your eye.

Because they are so large and rigid, they create a reservoir of fluid underneath the lens. This reservoir sits on top of your cornea, nourishing and hydrating your eye.

Warm Compresses

Blocked meibomian glands are a leading cause of dry eye. Meibomian glands produce the oil your tears need to prevent tear evaporation.

The meibomian glands in the rim of your eyelids can get clogged with oil and wax, especially if you don’t blink. Excess screen use reduces the amount that you blink, so this cause of dry eye is becoming more common.

The warm compress works by loosening some of the clogged wax in your eyelid glands. After that, the oil should be able to flow naturally to your eye.

What is LipiFlow?

LipiFlow dry eye treatment treats blocked meibomian glands. Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) is the term for clogged glands in your eyelids.

LipiFlow treats MGD by loosening and removing the blocks in your meibomian glands. It is a medical device that has two functions that remove these blocks.

During a LipiFlow treatment, your eye doctor puts pads on the inside and outside of your eyelids. These pads apply warm heat to melt the wax clogging your glands.

Then they use a gentle pulse to pull that melted oil out of your glands. Once the blocks are gone, oil should be able to flow more naturally onto your eyes.

You may notice an improvement in your dry eye symptoms immediately after LipiFlow. But, the maximum benefit won’t be noticeable until a few weeks after. By then, you should be producing adequate levels of oil in your eyelids again.

LipiFlow is an effective treatment for MGD and dry eye syndrome. But, symptoms can return, especially if you don’t blink enough or your glands are susceptible to clogging. For many, one LipiFlow treatment per year is necessary to keep the glands unblocked.

Do you have chronic dry eyes that feel impossible to relieve? You may have dry eye syndrome.

Schedule an appointment at Eye Consultants of North Dakota in Fargo, ND. Determine if LipiFlow or another dry eye treatment could give you the relief you need!