The mainstay of dry eye treatment is the use of artificial tears, gels or ointments. These can be used several times a day. In general for mild to moderate dry eye this is all that is needed. Best times to use artificial tears is during the activities most prone to dry eyes such as reading, watching television, knitting, using the computer, and playing cards. These activities tend to dry the eyes due to concentration and staring.
There isn’t one artificial tear that works well for everybody. Patients can try different products and see which works well for them. For mild dry eye, try something that comes in a reusable container. On the other hand, if you are already taking eye drops such as glaucoma drops (which have preservatives), use a unit-dose preservative-free drop. In general patients should avoid using drops with preservatives more than 4 times a day. Newer preservatives such as purite can be less irritating than the older preservatives such as BAK.
It is worth remembering that when eye drops containing preservatives are used frequently, some patients develop a condition called 'medicamentosa'. This condition mimics a severely irritated dry eye. The treatment is to stop all eye drops and switching to non-preserved eye drops.
Punctal plugs may be inserted in addition to artificial tear use. Punctal plugs are small and made of silicone or collagen. They are inserted into the drainage system on the upper and lower eyelids. This acts as a dam; they allow a minimal amount of tears to drain out of the eye, permitting natural or artificial tears to stay in the eye longer.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 is prominently found in salmon, flounder, halibut, lobster, shrimp, and many more deep water fish. Omega 3 is important for heart health, but also helps improve dry eye symptoms. It promotes good oil production in the body, which improves tear film quality. This oily tear film layer helps reduce tear evaporation.
Omega 3 can be supplemented in over the counter fish oil and cod liver oil gel caps for those not interested in eating fish.
RESTASIS® Ophthalmic Emulsion is the only prescription medication available that increases tear production in the eye by reducing inflammation caused by dry eye syndrome.
If you suffer from dry eye syndrome consult your Ophthalmologist today for treatment.
DRY EYE QUIZ
To help with the diagnosis and management of your dry eyes, you may take this dry eye quiz to calculate your Ocular Surface Disease Index (OSDI).
Remember to print a copy to bring to our next appointment with your Ophthalmologist.
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