Is Dry Eye Syndrome Curable?
Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition that may not be curable but in most cases can be controlled. The burning, itching and gritty sensation can be helped.
Artificial tears are the mainstay of treatment. There are many different types of tears. Some are more watery, others are thicker, and there are tear ointments for use at bedtime. Some tears are now available as preservative free tears. Some people are sensitive to the preservatives in the tears and due much better with these types of tears. It is best to try different types of tears to see which works best for each individual. Artificial tears are usually needed more often while reading, working on a computer, sewing, or watching TV. This is due to decreased blinking when someone is looking and concentrating at their particular task. For people who have problems putting in eye drops, there is a tear lubricant available in a spray or mist container.
Punctal plugs are an option if the artificial tears are not working well enough. There is a tiny opening on each eyelid toward the nose that drains the tears from the eye into the lacrimal sac and then into the nose. There is the constant production of tears and they drained from the eye into the nose. Blocking the tear duct will then stop the drainage of the tears and keep the tears on the surface of the eye. They are easily inserted just like putting a cork in a bottle. Many doctors will put in punctual plugs that dissolve in a few days to see if they provide comfort before putting in a permanent type. There are also plugs that will last for several months before dissolving if you chose not to have a permanent type. There is a type of plug that expands after insertion to conform to the size of the canal. This type of plug is one size fits all and does not need a measurement.
Permanent Punctal Closure
Punctal closure is a surgical procedure done in some cases to permanently close the tear duct. This can be done with either a laser or cautery in the office with local anesthetic.
Lacrisert is another option. Lacrisert is a tiny insert filled with a lubricating ingredient. It is inserted just inside the lower eyelid, where it continuously releases its lubrication onto the surface of the eye throughout the day.
Restasis eye drops (Cyclosporine) is the first medication approved for the treatment of dry eyes. It works by helping the cells that produce the tears to improve their function. It is used two times a day and it may take up to 3 to 4 months to get the maximum effect from the medication. Restasis should not be used by patients with active eye infections. It has not been studied with people have a history of herpes eye infections. It should not be used while wearing contact lenses. If wearing contact lenses, the lenses should be removed before use. The most common side effect is temporary burning. Other side effects are eye redness, discharge, watery eye, eye pain, foreign body sensation, itching, stinging, and blurred vision. Your doctor can place you on a mild steroid eye drop for a short period of time to help stop the irritation.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) may help with dry eyes. Eating more fish such as salmon or taking flax seed oil supplements
Other Helpful Options
Make sure to keep any ceiling fans off or in reverse.
Wear wrap around type sunglasses outdoors to protect your eyes. There sunglasses that are designed with a seal to block any air getting to the eyes.
Keep your air filters clean. If your problem is severe enough then adding a humidifier may help.
If you are taking a medication that is making your dry eyes worse, consult your doctor about options about changing the medications.
Treat any underlying eyelid problems such as ectropion (eyelid turning out)
Treat any blepharitis condition if it is present as it can contribute significantly to dry eye problems