A walk down any pharmacy “eye aisle” with a complaint of dryness can be a little overwhelming.
There are many different options, and their differences speak to the diversity of reasons one may be experiencing ‘dry eye’ in the first place. Consequently, some seem more “effective” than others.
The basic story of dry eye syndrome is in the name, though its medical term – keratitis sicca – won’t tip you off in the same way. When the eye’s surface lacks moisture and lubrication due to a shortage of tears, we experience it as dryness and irritation, sometimes accompanied by redness and itching. Ironically, watery eyes, triggered by an overproduction of the watery part of your tears to protect the eye, can also be a symptom of dry eye. Finding the best remedy depends on unlocking the reasons and conditions of one’s dry eye – the underlying causes.
Why your eye drops don’t work:
Do your eyes constantly burn, feel gritty, itchy, or watery? Is this worse in the morning or at night? Are you using your artificial tears with the enthusiasm of a professional eater tackling hotdogs to no avail? So why are the drops that claim to do everything not addressing your symptoms?
Unfortunately, as much as we want to pin all hope on an eye drop being the holy grail of relief, this is not the case. In most circumstances, a fall can mask the underlying cause of your specific ocular symptoms.
What is tear?
Let’s start with that life-nourishing fluid – our tears. Tears clean and moisturize our eyes while providing them with enzymes that neutralize their indwelling microorganisms. Eyes become dry because the lacrimal gland underproducing tears, or the meibomian gland reducing oil output ( or clogging). Tears evaporate too quickly. It is like loosening or tightening the faucet. It can result from menopause, LASIK surgery, a side effect of medications, or a product of living in a dry, dusty, polluted, or windy city, such as Las Vegas or Tucson. It can be an alarming indicator of Sjogren’s Syndrome lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or ocular rosacea if occurring alongside other issues. As if that wasn’t daunting enough diagnostically, dry eye is also linked to long hours at the computer, extended contact lens wear, smoking, and seasonal allergies. It could be a combination of things, as well. If you find yourself in a rare spell of dry eye, some over-the-counter drops may be just what the doctor ordered. However, suppose it is a chronic issue. In that case, it may require some deeper investigation or lifestyle changes, such as installing an air filter or taking more breaks from the electronic devices.
Causes of Dry Eyes
Eye drops can mask an underlying potentially more severe problem. The most common cause behind dry eye problems involves the top lipid layer of a person’s tear film. There are many reasons why this lipid layer does not function to its highest level. A few key reasons are insufficient blinking with increased technology and improper blinking, rosacea-associated ocular inflammation, poor lid and eyelash hygiene, and certain medications. Because the underlying cause involves the lipid gland itself, we need to target specific treatments to improve the lipid expression. Using artificial tears will only mask the underlying symptoms. Hence, it is common for people to present relatively late for treatment of the actual issue. Let’s think of these lipid glands as a muscle requiring exercise. We understand the importance of ensuring they are functioning as intended.
- Evaporative Dry Eyes
Specific individuals also suffer from a decreased secretion of the thick middle watery layer (aqueous layer). Sure using artificial tears will increase the number of tears on the eye. However, it is not targeting the underlying reason for the hypo- secretion. For example, low androgen/testosterone levels, autoimmune conditions such as Rheumatoid arthritis, even a decreased tear feedback mechanism following LASIK surgery. With adequate testing, we can detect and improve the secretion from this gland (lacrimal gland) and hopefully reduce your dependence on drops.
A similar scenario occurs with ocular allergies. Many individuals struggle at certain times of the year with what they assume is dry eye and continue to abuse the artificial teardrops. Allergies can cause a range of symptoms from itchiness and swell to your typical burning, red, irritated symptoms typical of a dry eye case. Your standard eye drop does not contain the necessary ingredients to target the underlying allergy reaction.
- Sensitivity to preservatives in the eye drops
If using eye drops on schedule four times a day is not improving your symptoms, or worse yet, has made you feel even worse, there are a few things to consider. Suppose your eyes burn and are even redder than before. In that case, you may have a sensitivity to that particular eye drop or to the preservatives in that eye drop.
One option is switching to artificial tears in “individual use droppers” because they do not have preservatives. These one-time droppers are also a good option if you use your teardrops more than five or six times a day, as the preservatives can dry eyes out even more when used too frequently. They are typically a bit more expensive and must be used immediately after opening. If you put a drop of the tears in each eye, discard the rest of the dropper because if you “recap” the bottle, it can get bacterial growth inside the container. Therefore, the next time you would put it in your eye during the subsequent use because they, by definition, do not have preservatives.
If you use your teardrops (preserved or non-preserved) four or more times a day and still feel irritation and dryness, you may need more treatment.
- Meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) – clogged oil glands.
86% of the people with dry eyes also have MGD. Your tears must have three components: Oil, Water, and Mucus, and they must all be in the right “amount” to have a happy, healthy ocular surface. When the oil glands in your eyelids get plugged, the oil gets hard, similar to the consistency of Crisco. When you heat Crisco in a skillet, it becomes clear and coats the bottom of the pan. This coating is what your eyes need. Scrubbing the eyelid margins helps remove the oil plugging the opening. Using a warm compress encourages it to coat the ocular surface.
Combining teardrops with good eyelid hygiene and warm compresses is helpful for many patients and is typically inexpensive. The only thing you have to lose is your dry eye symptoms!
Dry Eye Treatments
- TheralIfe Eye Capsules.
When drops fail, come to TheraLife – the leader in oral dry eye treatment that works. Theralife Eye capsules restore and revive tear functions from the inside out. TheraLife’s protocol utilizes TheraLife Eye capsules for dry eyes, Omega 3 fish oil, hot compress, and Avenova eyelid cleanser. A comprehensive protocol that gets results fast.
- Eye drops.
“Artificial tears,” which are the most common eye drops, come in two varieties – with and without preservatives. If you are struggling with a more severe case of dry eye and using them multiple times a day, we recommend that you use drops with fewer additives. Some artificial tears include electrolytes to help balance the tear for the eye’s surface, and your eye doctors will prescribe eye drops that tackle inflammation. When contemplating your options, do be aware that many eye drops that focus their pitch on “reducing redness” are not as helpful in providing moisture. However, this eye drop can be beneficial if you have a big meeting to appear presentable. The problem is- your eyes can acquire a tolerance to the eye-whitening vasoconstrictors in these red-eye fixes, which can lead to more redness in the long term. If you wear contact lenses, make sure to remove them before using the eye drops and wait 15-20 minutes before putting them on again.
- Ointment for your dry eyes
If you use your teardrops (preserved or non-preserved) four or more times a day and still feel irritation and dryness, you may need more treatment. The next thing I would recommend is using an artificial tear ointment. It is similar to teardrops but has the consistency of Vaseline. It is best applied immediately before lying down to sleep at night because it blurs vision.
- Hot Compress
One of the keys to dry eye treatment is a hot compress. 86% of people with dry eyes have clogged oil glands located on the eyelids (Meibomian gland dysfunction MGD). The heat from the hot compress melts the clogging. Gently massage afterward help push the clogging out of the orifice. Avenova eyelid cleanser then removes the dirt.
Consult with your Eye doctors
Essentially your eye specialist is required to identify the layer of the tear film that is of concern and target treatment appropriately. Certain ocular conditions can cause chronic damage to the delicate structures that produce our tear film. An eye examination aims to identify and slow any progression of dry eye disease, preventing future deterioration and irreversible damage.
If dry eye is a troubling reoccurrence, make the time to discuss possible causes with your eye doctors. They may recommend nutritional supplements such as omega-3 fatty acids Theralife Eye capsules, and more. The two of you can also plan a long-term strategy that identifies and addresses your unique factors.
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