Dry Eye

What is dry eye syndrome? 

Dry eye syndrome is a common medical condition that affects 20 million people in the United States and 344 million people worldwide. Symptoms of dry eye syndrome include stinging, burning, or scratching sensation of the eyes, light sensitivity, watery eyes, blurry vision that fluctuates throughout the day, eye fatigue, or a sensation of having something in the eyes. Dry eye syndrome can be a chronic condition that affects a person’s quality of life. 

What causes dry eyes?

The cause of dry eye syndrome can be multifactorial and depends on each person. Some common causes of dry eye syndrome include insufficient tear production, abnormal tear film, meibomian gland dysfunction, blepharitis, abnormal eyelid positioning, systemic disease such as diabetes, thyroid disease, and autoimmune disorders. The best way to diagnose and properly treat dry eyes is with a visit with your ophthalmologist. Your ophthalmologist will conduct a thorough eye examination to determine the cause of your dry eye syndrome and create a personalized plan for treatment and follow-up. 

What are my treatment options for dry eyes? 

The key to treating dry eye syndrome is to properly diagnose and treat the root cause of the problem. This is best done with consultation with your ophthalmologist. For symptomatic relief, over-the-counter artificial tears are a good place to start. For patients with severe disease, a personalized regimen and treatment plan can be discussed. Advanced treatment options include prescription eye drops such as Restasis or Xiidra, procedures such as punctal plugs, and prescription oral medications. 

What are punctal plugs?  

Punctal plugs are a good treatment option when the cause of dry eye syndrome is insufficient tear production. Punctal plugs are very tiny plug devices that can be placed in the punctum, which is the tear duct that drains fluid out of the eyes. This is a painless procedure that can be performed in your ophthalmologist’s office. The purpose of the punctal plug is to reduce the rate of tear drainage from your eyes, therefore allowing your natural tears to keep your eyes moisturized.