Do you suffer from Dry Eyes?
Wichita Falls TX residents can find treatment and relief from dry eyes and allergies with help from our office.
Eye allergies, lack of sleep, contact lens wear, extended computer use – all of these are things that can lead to dry, irritated eyes. Dry eyes are a common condition, especially in our North Texas climate. Approximately 12 to 20% of the population suffers from dry eye symptoms. The likelihood of developing dry eyes is statistically higher in women and the elderly. Knowing what elements make up your tear film helps you to understand dry eye. The tear film is composed of three different layers: the lipid layer, the aqueous layer, and the mucin layer. These complex layers have to work together to provide a healthy tear film. A deficiency in any of these layers will affect the others.
Symptoms of Dry Eyes
An eye allergy or dry eyes can cause undesirable symptoms.
At Clarke EyeCare Center, we strive to educate patients about steps they can take to lessen the effects they feel from insufficient tear film health. One of the first things we normally discuss with patients is water intake. We all know that we should consume 5 to 8 glasses of water per day, but few people realize the direct effect it can have with regards to dry eyes. It is critical that you stay hydrated.
People who spend long hours in front of a computer will often experience dry eye symptoms as well. Studies indicate that you blink less while working at a computer, and a reduced blink rate exposes the ocular surface longer, allowing the tear film to evaporate. Complaints related to computer use typically include eye strain, fatigue, soreness in or around the eye, and discomfort.
Artificial tears are commonly used to treat initial symptoms of dry eye, but most people find the need for repeated dosage to be inconvenient. Treating chronic dry eye with artificial tears is often a band-aid, masking the symptoms and only providing short term relief. Unfortunately, there are usually major differences between name brand and generic store brands, the most common being the preservatives contained in the artificial tears. Additionally, over-use of an over-the-counter re-wetting drop, typically considered more than 4 times a day, can result in an increase of dry eye symptoms due to too much exposure of the preservative agent by the eye.
Causes of Dry Eyes and an Eye Allergy
The lipid layer is the outermost layer of the tear film. It is produced by the meibomian glands located on the lid margins of the upper and lower eyelids. The lipid layer, with its oily consistency, prevents evaporation of the aqueous layer. The health of the meibomian glands is directly responsible for a healthy lipid layer. If bacteria are present on the eyelid margins, they could produce secretions that would alter the consistency of the oils needed for healthy tears. Bacteria in or around the meibomian glands can also cause inflammation. Inflammation reduces the quality of the oils that are produced by these glands and often results in a thick, red appearance around the base of the eyelashes.
The aqueous layer, mainly composed of a watery substance, is the middle and thickest layer of the tear film. It also functions as a defense mechanism, fighting against eye infections with its natural antibacterial properties. Some inflammatory conditions such as Sjögren’s syndrome or Rheumatoid Arthritis can affect the aqueous layer resulting in
The mucin layer lies directly beneath the aqueous layer and lines the surface of the eye. The eye’s surface is hydrophobic (water repelling), similar to a freshly waxed car that repels water by causing it to beat up on the surface. The absence of a healthy mucin layer would disable the tears from forming an even, intact layer over the surface of the eye. As you can see, the lipid, aqueous and mucin layers are all critical to the importance of a healthy tear film.
Dry Eye Treatment in Wichita Falls
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Deposits consisting of flakes of dry, dead skin can build up at the base of the eyelashes often irritating the lid margin and clogging the meibomian glands. Examination of the lid margin for evidence of any thick, red areas is extremely important. I assess the fluidity and color of the secretions from the meibomian glands to ensure a healthy lipid layer is present. The oils that are emitted should be clear and fluid, resembling that of vegetable oil.
Oils appearing any different than that may indicate that the glands are not functioning properly. Eyelid hygiene directly affects the health of the meibomian glands and therefore the quality of tear film as discussed earlier in this article. People who seem to have recurring eyelid disease should be educated as to what “proper eyelid hygiene” entails. A cleansing routine with a commercial product, such as OcuSoft Foaming Eyelid Cleanser, will help the lids regain their normal appearance by removing the deposits from the lashes. I recommend the commercially available cleaners as they are specifically formulated for the deposits and bacteria found in and around the eye. Sometimes an antibiotic is needed to help control the development of bacteria that are likely causing much of the debris seen at the base of the eyelashes.
Omega-3 fatty acids commonly referred to as fish oils are now also being suggested by eye care practitioners to help manage dry eyes and certain eye allergies and lid margin disease. Two to four grams of Omega-3 fatty acids are recommended daily to help promote healthy meibomian gland secretions. It often takes 6 to 12 weeks to produce noticeable results.
With chronic dry eyes or an eye allergy, often the ocular surface becomes inflamed. Restasis, a medication that many people recognize from commercials and magazine ads, was initially developed and approved as an agent that aids the eye in producing more of its own tears. It has also been found to be effective as an anti-inflammatory which further enables Restasis to help restore a healthy ocular surface. Controlling inflammation is an important component to treating dry eyes and the introduction and use of Lotemax, also an anti-inflammatory, in conjunction with Restasis has proven to provide much-needed relief for many dry eye sufferers.
Punctal plugs are medical devices that are designed to keep tears on the ocular surface. As their name implies, these devices are used to plug the punctum. The puncta are barely visible, but located nasally, on both the upper and lower eyelid. They act as a drainage system, allowing the tears to drain into the back of the nose and throat. Blocking the puncta will allow more tears to stay on the ocular surface.
When meibomian glands are clogged, the addition of heat and lid massage can break up the obstacles and help restore the glands to their normal function.
Get Dry Eye Treatment Today
With all of the research and development into treating dry eyes, there is no reason to continue suffering from a dry eye condition in Wichita Falls. If you’re experiencing dry eyes, pain, itchiness, an eye allergy, redness, or light sensitivity, call 9409050700, we can help!