Natural tears lubricate the eye, providing a clear and smooth surface that protects the eyes. When there are insufficient tears present, your eyes are susceptible to scratches and infections. In addition, foreign matter such as dust cannot get washed away without tear flow, causing itchy and irritated eyes. In many cases, a lack of tears results in blurry and cloudy vision.
If dry eye is interfering with your everyday life, Los Angeles ophthalmologist Dr. Linda Vu can examine you to help find the best solution for your symptoms.
What Is Dry Eye Syndrome?
Dry eye is a medical condition in which your eyes do not produce enough tears, or tears evaporate too quickly. There are a number of causes of dry eye, including:
- Certain medications (e.g., antihistamines, beta-blockers, oral contraceptives)
- Hormonal changes
- Cosmetic eye surgery
- Certain health conditions (e.g., diabetes, arthritis, lupus)
- Sun overexposure
- LASIK eye surgery
In addition, environmental factors, like wind and air conditioning, can aggravate dry eye symptoms. Infrequent blinking as a result of spending a significant amount of time (two hours or more) in front of a computer or other digital device, can also worsen dry eye.
Common Symptoms of Dry Eye
Symptoms can come and go, depending on the cause. A person with dry eye may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Burning sensation
- Eye fatigue and soreness
- Red eyes
- Light sensitivity
- Blurred vision
Diagnosing Dry Eye
One way to determine whether your symptoms are signs of dry eye is by scheduling a dry eye vision exam with Linda Vision. During your consultation, our eye doctors will perform one or several tests to determine the root of the problem, the severity of the condition and the appropriate treatment.
Treating Dry Eye
There are a number of treatment options available for dry eyes. For mild symptoms, making environmental and lifestyle changes may be enough to cure or manage symptoms. For instance, if you spend multiple hours focusing your eyes on a computer screen or other digital device, blinking more often and taking breaks can keep eyes moist and comfy. Using a humidifier in your home or work can also help by slowing down the evaporation of tears. In addition, research shows omega-3 supplements and foods rich in omega-3 can help prevent dry eye or manage symptoms.
For mild symptoms, a simple solution may be using artificial tears to lubricate your eyes. However, for some patients, lubrication is not enough to relieve dry eye symptoms. If this is the case, our eye doctors will evaluate the condition and prescribe the necessary medications and treatments to help your eyes. Other treatment options can include punctal plugs to prevent tear drainage or intense pulsed light therapy to unblock the meibomian glands that have become clogged and prevent proper tear flow.
Dry Eye Disease FAQs
What is the best home remedy for dry eye disease?
Many people use artificial tears or over-the-counter eye drops in the fight against dry eye disease. The artificial tears and drops moisturize the eyes to make them more comfortable. However, the effects of tears or drops typically do not last very long, so they must be used quite frequently.
Other common at-home remedies to reduce symptoms of dry eye disease include applying warm compresses to the eyes and using a humidifier to add moisture back to dry air. Avoiding hair dryers, fans, smoking, wind and medications known to increase the incidence of dry eye symptoms (e.g., antihistamines, oral contraceptives) can also help.
However, at-home remedies are not designed to treat the root cause of dry eye disease, so any relief will be short-lived. Professional treatment with an ophthalmologist is normally needed to see lasting relief.
If I don’t treat my dry eye disease, could it get worse?
It could. Adequate tear production and tear quality are important to overall eye health. Not treating dry eye disease can increase the risk of damage to the surface of your eyes. If the disease is severe enough, you could develop (in order of increasing severity) blurry vision, abrasions, eye inflammation or corneal ulcers that makes it hard to read or drive.
What are meibomian glands?
Meibomian glands are tiny glands in the rims of the eyelids that produce and secrete oils into the tear film. The oils help the tears “stick” to the surface of the eyes and prevent the tears from evaporating too quickly, leaving the eyes dry.
If the meibomian glands become blocked or develop another type of abnormality, they do not secrete enough oil into the tear film. This causes the tears to evaporate prematurely off the surface of the eyes and the eyes to dry out.
Is there a cure for dry eye?
Most of the time, dry eye disease can be managed with medical or surgical treatments to relieve symptoms and improve comfort. The treatment(s) used depends on the root cause of the disease.
Can I have dry eye disease even if my eyes are watery?
Though it seems paradoxical, sometimes watery eyes are a symptom of dry eye disease. When the eye’s surface is very dry it can stimulate the production of the watery layer of the tear film. When the tears have too much water, they can wash away healthier, more balanced tears. The eyes may be wet but they are not well-lubricated.
What foods may help with dry eye disease?
Studies show that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce symptoms of dry eye disease. You can get the Omega-3 fatty acids through food sources like cold-water fish (e.g., salmon, sardines); fresh vegetables like kale, spinach and Brussels sprouts; peanut butter; avocados; and flaxseed oil. Alternatively, you can get omega-3 fatty acids through nutritional supplementation.
Why should I choose Dr. Vu for my dry eye treatment?
Dr. Vu is widely respected for providing top-quality care for dry eye disease. She stays abreast of all advances in dry eye treatment techniques and offers the safest and most effective solutions. She will recommend a treatment tailored specifically to your symptoms and needs.