Dry Eyes

We offer comprehensive testing and treatment options for dry eyes.

Dry Eyes

Dry eyes is a common condition that occurs when tears aren’t able to provide adequate lubrication for the eyes. Tears can be inadequate for many reasons. For example, dry eyes may occur if you don’t produce enough tears or if you produce poor-quality tears.

Dry eyes feel uncomfortable. If you have dry eyes, your eyes may sting or burn. You may experience dry eyes in certain situations, such as on an airplane, in an air-conditioned room, while riding a bike or after looking at a computer screen for a few hours.

Treatments for dry eyes may make you more comfortable. These treatments can include lifestyle changes and eye drops. You’ll likely need to take these measures indefinitely to control the symptoms of dry eyes.

What causes dry eyes?

Dry eyes are caused by a lack of adequate tears. Your tears are a complex mixture of water, fatty oils and mucus. This mixture helps make the surface of your eyes smooth and clear, and it helps protect your eyes from infection.

For some people, the cause of dry eyes is decreased tear production. For others it’s increased tear evaporation and an imbalance in the makeup of your tears.

Signs and symptoms, which usually affect both eyes, may include:

  • A stinging, burning or scratchy sensation in your eyes
  • Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye redness
  • A sensation of having something in your eyes
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Difficulty with night time driving
  • Watery eyes, which is the body’s response to the irritation of dry eyes
  • Blurred vision or eye fatigue
  • Dry eyes

When to see a specialist

See your doctor if you’ve had prolonged signs and symptoms of dry eyes, including red, irritated, tired or painful eyes. Your doctor can take steps to determine what’s bothering your eyes or refer you to a specialist.

Risk factors Complications
Being older than 50. Tear production tends to diminish as you get older. Eye infections. Without adequate tears, you may have an increased risk of eye infection
Being a woman. A lack of tears is more common in women, especially due to hormonal changes during pregnancy, birth control pills or menopause. Damage to the surface of your eyes. This may lead to eye inflammation, abrasion of the corneal surface, corneal ulcer and vision problems
Diet lacking vitamin A, which is found in liver, carrots and broccoli, or low in omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish, walnuts and vegetable oils Decreased quality of life. Dry eyes can make it difficult to perform everyday activities, such as reading.
Wearing contact lenses

Diagnosing dry eyes

This is done through a comprehensive eye exam that includes a complete history of your overall health and your eye health can help your doctor diagnose the cause of your dry eyes.

Your doctor may also measure your tear production using the Schirmer test. In this test, blotting strips of paper are placed under your lower eyelids. After five minutes, your doctor will measure the amount of strip soaked by tears.

Other tests use special dyes in eyedrops to determine the surface condition of your eyes. Your doctor will look for staining patterns on the corneas and measure how long it takes before tears evaporate.

Treatment of dry eyes

For most people with occasional or mild dry eye symptoms, it is enough to regularly use over-the-counter eye drops (artificial tears). If your symptoms are persistent and more serious, you have other options. What you do depends on what’s causing your dry eyes.

Some treatments focus on reversing or managing a condition or factor that’s causing your dry eyes. Other treatments can improve your tear quality or stop your tears from quickly draining away from your eyes.

In some cases, treating an underlying health issue can help clear up the signs and symptoms of dry eyes. For instance, if a medication is causing your dry eyes, your doctor may recommend a different medication that doesn’t cause that side effect. 

If you have an eyelid condition, such as out-turning lids (ectropion), your doctor may refer you to an eye surgeon who specializes in plastic surgery of the eyelids (oculoplastic surgeon). Or if you have rheumatoid arthritis, your doctor may refer you to a rheumatologist.

Medication

Drugs to reduce eyelid inflammation. Inflammation along the edge of your eyelids can keep oil glands from secreting oil into your tears. Your doctor may recommend antibiotics to reduce inflammation. Antibiotics for dry eyes are usually taken by mouth, though some are used as eye drops or ointments

Eye drops to control cornea inflammation. Inflammation on the surface of your eyes (cornea) may be controlled with prescription eye drops that contain the immune-suppressing medication cyclosporine or corticosteroids. Corticosteroids are not ideal for long-term use due to possible side effects

Surgery

Closing your tear ducts to reduce tear loss. Your doctor may suggest this treatment to keep your tears from leaving your eye too quickly. This can be done by partially or completely closing your tear ducts, which normally serve to drain tears away.

Tear ducts can be plugged with tiny silicone plugs (punctal plugs) which are removable. Tear ducts can also be plugged with a procedure that uses heat, which is a more permanent solution called thermal cautery.

Other treatments

Using light therapy and eyelid massage. A technique called intense-pulsed light therapy followed by massage of the eyelids helps people with severe dry eyes.

Other Treatments

Learn More

Refractive Lens Exchange

Replacing the natural lens of your eye, and inserting a tailor made lens that can help you see from near and far distances without the use of spectacles.

Cataract Extraction

Removing the cloudy lens, and replacing it with a premium lens for a better visual outcome.

Phakic Lens Implantation

Inserting a small lens beneath the surface of the eye for those having high myopia and wanting to get rid of their glasses or contact lenses.

Intracorneal Ring Segments (ICRS) Implantation

Inserting an ophthalmic medical device for reducing or eliminating myopia and astigmatism in patients with keratoconus.

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