Dry eye syndrome occurs when your eyes chronically do not produce enough moisture and lubrication along the surface of the eye. The medical term for dry eyes, keratitis sicca, refers to a decrease in the production of tears.
Symptoms of dry eyes include constant irritation, such as dryness, scratching and burning. Another symptom of dry eyes is “foreign body sensation,” the feeling that something is irritating the eye. And finally, watery eyes, as a result of an over stimulated production of the water component of your eye.
Dry eyes are caused by either a malfunction in the lacrimal gland that doesn’t produce enough tears, or the tears themselves evaporate too quickly. Dry eyes are a result of a multitude of factors. Some include:
- The aging process, especially during menopause
- As a side effect of certain medications (i.e. antihistamines, antidepressants, birth control pills)
Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition that may not be completely curable but the associated irritation can be managed. Some solutions include: prescribed artificial tears (lubricating eye drops), punctual plugs that help keep the eye dry by preventing tears from draining out too quickly, or sunglasses that keep out wind, pollen and dust with an air tight seal.
Tears cleanse the eye, flushing out dust and debris and are essential for healthy eyes. If you suspect you have dry eye syndrome and you live in or around Olympia Fields, feel free to contact our office to schedule an eye exam with one of our doctors today. We will gladly answer any of your questions and provide you with the best dry eyes treatment options available to you.
Restasis® is a preservative-free prescription medication used to treat chronic dry eyes caused by an inability to adequately produce natural tears. Restasis is not an artificial tear like many over-the-counter eye drops are, but rather a formulation designed to help the eyes better produce natural tears. It comes in individually packaged vials that are design for one-time usage and disposal.
For most patients who begin taking Restasis, increased tear production does not begin until at least 3 months after initiating the prescription. It is safe to continue using artificial tears while using Restasis, although most people experience a decreased need for OTC eye drops with time.
You could be a candidate for Restasis if you have chronically dry eyes that are caused by inflammation within the eye. Patients who frequently rely on artificial tears or have persistently dry eyes that interfere with day-to-day life should speak a doctor about whether prescription Restasis.
Punctal plugs are tiny implants used to prevent or relieve dry eyes. The size of a grain of rice, these small plugs are placed into the tear ducts to improve moisture production on the surface of the eye. An eye doctor may administer a local anesthetic, dilate the tear duct opening and then insert the punctal plug in a simple office procedure.
Punctual plugs are not typically felt once in place, and soft ones usually conform to the eye – making them difficult to dislodge. However, punctal plugs can easily be removed if necessary, and an eye doctor can easily replace them when lost.
Most people who are suffering from or at risk for suffering from dry eyes are candidates for punctual plugs. Dissolvable plugs are designed for short term use and are commonly given to refractive surgery patients to prevent dry eyes in the days or weeks following surgery. Semi-permanent punctual plugs are meant for long-term use – usually to treat chronically dry eyes.