If your eyes don’t produce enough tears, you have a condition known as dry eye, a common medical problem. Without treatment, it can become chronic, especially as you get older.
Healthy eyes contain glands in and around the eyelids that produce tears. The lids spread those tears across the eye’s surface every time you blink, helping to lubricate the eye, clear away debris and pathogens, and keep vision sharp.
Excess tears drain through tiny ducts in the inner corners of your eyelids into the back of your nose. If anything blocks the ducts, moisture spills out of your eyes. If you don’t produce enough tears, the surface becomes dry, which can lead to eye infections, damage to the surface tissue, and blurred vision.
At Omphroy Eye Care in Aiea, Hawaii, ophthalmologist Dr. Luis Omphroy and his team know how irritating dry eye disease can be, and ultimately how dangerous. That’s why if you struggle to produce tears, we can offer you state-of-the-art treatments to relieve the problem.
What does it mean that I can’t produce enough tears?
Dry eye most often occurs because of an imbalance between tear production and duct drainage. People with dry eyes may have adequate drainage, but they either produce too few tears or their tears are of an inferior quality. The leading causes for insufficient tears are:
- Getting older
- Problems with secretion glands in the eye
- Medical conditions, including thyroid problems, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetes
- Medication side effects
- Dust, wind, and dry air
Healthy tears contain oil, water, and mucus, and you need all three to protect and nourish the cornea. If any layer becomes damaged, the resulting tears may be too watery, don’t cover the cornea evenly, or evaporate too quickly, resulting in dry eye.
Symptoms of dry eye
Dry eye comes with an array of symptoms, including:
- Burning or stinging sensation
- Bloodshot eyeballs
- Scratchy or gritty feeling
- Watery eyes
- Mucus discharge
- Blurred vision
Why, you might ask, should watery eyes be a symptom of dry eye? The answer is fairly straightforward.
In the absence of enough or good-quality tears, the eye attempts to provide the needed moisture. But the tears it can produce only come from the watery layer. The oil and mucus layers are missing. Spillage is the consequence of the extra water.
How we can help your dry eye disease
If you’re struggling to produce enough tears, come in and see us at Omphroy Eye Care. We can evaluate your condition, diagnose it accurately, and treat it effectively.
At-home dry eye care
There are things you can do at home until you come in for your appointment:
- Use over-the-counter lubricating drops, gels, or ointments
- Switch your medications for those that don’t cause dry eyes
- Don’t smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke
- Limit screen time (you tend not to blink as much in front of a screen)
- Wear wraparound sunglasses to protect your eyes from the environment
- Use a warm, damp compress across your eyes
- Apply light pressure to your lids to stimulate tears
- Switch from contacts to glasses to avoid further irritation
Medical dry eye care
If you’re still struggling with dry eye even after trying at-home treatments, we can recommend a number of medical options.
For mild cases, prescription lubricating drops or eyelid scrapers can reduce the burning and scratchiness.
If you need long-term relief, we offer two minimally invasive surgical options. First, we can implant removable gel or silicone plugs into your tear ducts, preventing drainage so you can manage with the tears you do produce. Second, we can close the tear ducts to achieve the same end, but this option isn’t reversible.
We also offer cutting-edge treatments such as intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy and amniotic membrane grafts. You can discuss the best course of treatment with Dr. Omphroy at your consultation.
If you’re struggling with inadequate tear production, you have options, and our team at Omphroy Eye Care can help. Give our office a call to schedule a consultation with Dr. Omphroy.