Dry eye is a condition that occurs when your eyes don’t have enough tears to keep them moist and healthy. While acute attacks of dry eye are more common when you’re young, the condition often turns chronic as you get older.
Healthy eyes contain glands in and around the eyelids, and it’s their job to secrete tears. As you blink, the upper and lower lids spread the tears across the clear, curved membrane at the front of the eye known as the cornea.
Tears serve many functions: They lubricate the eye surface, wash away debris and pathogens, and help keep your vision clear.
Any excess tears you produce flow into ducts in the inner corners of your eyelids, draining down into the back of your nose.
Dry eye is more than a nuisance. Left untreated, it can lead to a number of complications that can affect your eyesight.
At Omphroy Eye Care in Aiea, Hawaii, our board-certified ophthalmologist, Dr. Luis Omphroy, and our staff understand how uncomfortable dry eye can be and how, left alone, it can be dangerous. That’s why we offer state-of-the-art treatments to keep your eyes moist and restore your eye health.
The causes of dry eye
Dry eye usually results from an imbalance between tear production and duct drainage. People with dry eye may produce too few tears, their tears may be of an inferior quality, or both. The leading causes of inadequate tear production are:
- Gland problems
- Underlying medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, thyroid problems, rheumatoid arthritis)
- Medication side effects that decrease production
- Environmental factors (e.g., wind and dry air)
Normal tears contain three layers that protect and nourish the cornea: oil, water, and mucus. If any layer becomes damaged, your tears may not spread evenly, may be too watery, or may evaporate too quickly. All three cases lead to dry eye.
Complications of untreated chronic dry eye
Dry eye has seven major complications:
- Irritation or grittiness
- Burning or itching
- Feeling there’s something in your eye
- Blurry vision
- Excessive watering
- Eye infections
- Damage to cornea
And while you might think watery eyes wouldn’t be a symptom of dry eye, it's actually a common symptom. The eye tries to lubricate itself when it doesn't have enough tears or tears of good quality. The tears it can produce come only from the watery layer, so what you get is spillage.
Help for your dry eye
If you’ve developed dry eye, the best course of action is to come into Omphroy Eye Care. Dr. Omphroy can evaluate your symptoms, determine their source, and treat the problem effectively.
At-home dry eye care
Until you come into the office, you can try some at-home remedies for symptom relief:
- Use over-the-counter gels, ointments, and drops
- Check your medications for a substitute that doesn’t have dry eye as a side effect
- Avoid smoking and secondhand smoke
- Limit screen time (you blink less)
- Wear sunglasses with side protection to protect your eyes from wind, sun, and dirt
- Place a warm, damp compress over your eyes to stimulate tears
- Apply light pressure to stimulate tears
Medical dry eye care
If your dry eye has turned chronic and progressed to the point that at-home remedies don’t work, Dr. Omphroy can recommend a number of medical treatments.
For mild cases, we offer prescription lubricating drops or eyelid scrapers; they reduce the burning and gritty feeling.
For long-term relief, we provide two options:
- Removable silicone/gel plugs implanted into tear ducts to prevent drainage
- Nonreversible surgery to close the tear ducts, achieving the same result
Dr. Omphroy also offers innovative treatments, including intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy and amniotic membrane grafts. He discusses all your options with you at your evaluation.
Are you suffering from the symptoms of dry eye? Don’t let it become chronic. Make an appointment at Omphroy Eye Care to find out how we can help. To schedule, give our office a call at 808-491-6513 today.