Have you ever felt dryness or grittiness in your eyes? Have you experienced waking up with eyelids sticking together? Is your vision getting blurred but improves when you blink? If your answer is yes, you might be suffering from dry eye disease.
This chronic condition, also known as keratoconjunctivitis sicca, occurs when the eyes do not produce and maintain enough tears to keep its surface lubricated.
As a result, your eyes might experience mild to severe dryness, discomfort, pain, blurred vision and even infections. There are also cases of scarring and corneal ulcers if not handled promptly.
Follow-up care may be required on a regular basis depending on how severe the symptoms seem.
While supplemental lubrication is often considered sufficient treatment for mild aqueous-deficient DED, it is essential to treat any existing concomitant lid disease. The primary objective is to boost the secretion of the tear layer’s aqueous component and goblet cell density while reducing inflammatory tear cytokines.
Below are some treatment options available for patients with dry eye disease.
- Artificial Tears
These are very effective against dry eyes caused by mild cases, such as prolonged computer use or reading for an extended period.
Using eye drops frequently can help manage the disease. There is a wide range of eye drops to choose from, and they are often available without a doctor’s prescription.
While you can use artificial tears as often as needed, it is best to try a few brands until you find what works best for you.
Low viscosity artificial tears provide faster relief because they are light and produce little to no blurring.
If you are using it more than six times a day, it is advisable to choose preservative-free tears as chemicals may irritate your eyes over time.
Unlike over-the-counter artificial tears, these are only available via a prescription. The eye doctor may advise that you use Restasis (Allergan), which works by doing more than simple eye lubrication.
The eye drop contains an agent that could help minimize inflammation related to dry eye syndrome. Also, it helps in the production of sufficient natural tears to help moisturize the eyes.
- Eye inserts
They work like artificial tears. They are most effective against moderate to severe cases of dry eyes, especially where artificial tears have failed to provide relief.
The insert resembles a grain of rice, but clearer. The hydroxypropyl cellulose insert is placed between the eyeball and the lower eyelid once a day.
The Lacrisert dissolves slowly over time and releases a substance found in eye drops for eye lubrication.
- Tear-stimulating Drugs
Dry eye disease can also be managed using cholinergic, which are tear-secreting drugs. These drugs enhance tear production to provide relief.
Patients can use these drugs as eye drops, pills or even gel. However, it is associated with side effects, such as sweating.
- Autologous Blood Serum Drops
A patient’s blood can be used to make drops for severe dry eyes that seem to show no response to other treatments. A sample of the patient’s blood is extracted and processed to get rid of the red blood cells before a salt solution is added to make eye drops.
Autologous serum drops reportedly possess many of the same biological nutrients found in natural tears, making it a better substitute.
In fact, a recent study reveals that patients who use this method showed improvement in symptoms after two weeks.
Dry eye syndrome can be both chronic and progressive. While some forms of this syndrome may not be entirely curable, they can be easily managed with early detection and appropriate treatment.
Note that medications vary based on the severity of symptoms. Therefore, always consult your eye doctor for the best treatment option.