How to Treat Different Types of Dry Eye
Dry eye is an incredibly uncomfortable and painful condition to live with. It can affect your vision, happiness, and overall day-to-day life. Depending on its cause and severity, it may not be completely treatable, but there are ways to help manage it. Here are some types of dry eye, causes, and treatments you can use to care for your eyes.
Types of Dry Eyes
There are two main types of dry eyes:
- Evaporative Dry Eye
The most common of the two, evaporative eye is a loss of tears from the eye as you produce them. It is caused by a blockage of the oil glands that line your eyelids, creating a deficiency in the oil layer of the tear film. These tiny glands (called meibomian glands) cover your eye in oil to prevent your tears from drying out. So when these glands become blocked, your tears evaporate as you produce them, resulting in dry eyes.
- Aqueous Dry Eye
Aqueous dry eye is simply tear deficiency. When the lacrimal glands of your eye (which are responsible for the creation of tears) produce tears at too low a level, it is impossible for the eye’s surface to remain adequately lubricated.
What Are the Causes of Dry Eyes?
Here are just a few things that can cause dry eye:
Dry eye is most often seen in people over the age of 50. As we age, our tear production naturally decreases. With the loss of that important amount of moisture, it becomes easier and easier to develop dry eye.
Though there is medicine to help combat the symptoms of dry eye, there are also some that can cause it. Medication like diuretics, central-acting agents, antihistamines, decongestants, beta blockers, and more can sometimes include the side effect of dry eye. There are also treatments used for other eye conditions that can contribute to symptoms of dry eyes. Always check the side effects of medications you are prescribed to be aware of any conditions you could develop.
- Screen Use
While nowadays it’s hard to imagine daily life without the use of a computer, phone, or some sort of electronic device, they can be quite harmful to your eyes. Staring at a screen for long periods of time can actually cause you to blink less frequently. Without the moisture and protection that blinking gives your eyes, they can begin to get dry.
- Contact Lenses
Dry eyes can develop whether you wear contacts or not, but symptoms can be more pronounced in contact wearers when the lenses begin to dry out. Symptoms can also develop with chronic use of contacts.
Dry Eye Treatments
There are many treatments you can use to help your dry eyes; here are just a few:
- Artificial Tears
Artificial tears are generally the first step in dry eye treatment. They are most useful for milder dry eye cases caused by strain or frequent screen use. There are many brands that do not require a prescription; so many, in fact, that it can be difficult to root out which brand and formula will work best for you. You can get them in a wide variation of ingredients and viscosities, from quick relief with minimal blurring to long lasting lubrication that can blur your vision for a few minutes. Ask your doctor which type of artificial tear will be best for you and your condition.
- Prescription Eye Drops
Prescription eye drops can be used with or instead of artificial tears, depending on what your doctor thinks your condition calls for. Eye drops often do more than just provide the eye with lubrication. They can decrease inflammation and help your eyes produce more natural tears.
- Surgical Treatments
Surgical treatments are obviously for intense cases of dry eyes. You can have punctal plugs inserted to partially or completely plug your tear ducts to stop tears from draining out of the eyes. Or, if your dry eyes are more severe, you may need to have your drainage ducts surgically closed by thermal punctal cautery. Consult with your doctor if you feel your condition is serious enough to warrant surgery.
- Take Care of Your Eyes
Being mindful to take good care of your eyes will help living with dry eyes more manageable. Take frequent breaks from activities that could strain your eyes or slow your blinking such as looking at an electronic screen or reading, and remind yourself to keep your eyes lubricated by blinking regularly. If you are taking medication that has side effects including dry eyes switch your prescription. Keep your contacts clean and try wearing them less often. Turn off ceiling fans and avoid drafts. You can also try home remedies, such as warm compresses, humidifiers, and Omega-3 fatty acid supplements. If you have any questions, ask your doctor for more day-to-day things that can be done to take better care of dry eyes.
Your specific case of dry eye may not be completely curable, but there are treatments you can use to take care of them once you know what type of dry eye you’re living with and what may have caused it.