Created on: Thursday, April 25, 2019 Author: Levin Luminais
Hello, and welcome to the beginning of allergy season! If you have allergies, you know the frustrations that come from them, including dry eyes.
What you may not realize is that besides having allergy symptoms, you could have chronic dry eye. Dry eye often means itchy, irritated eyes, swelling, and uncontrollable tearing.
If you do suffer from dry eye, there's hope! There are many treatment options for dry eye including the FDA approved procedure LipiFlow, or IPL (intense pulsed light) treatment. Keep reading to learn more about dry eye and your options!
What is dry eye?
If you have chronic dry eye, you'll probably know it. Dry eye is a chronic eye condition that affects millions each year. One of the primary causes of dry eye is lack of tear production. Alternatively, you may produce enough tears, but they may not be high quality.
When your eyes produce tears, they have three key components: mucus, water, and oil. If your tears have an imbalance of any of these elements, your eyes aren't getting the proper moisture and lubrication they need.
Symptoms of dry eye
With a name like "dry" eye, many people assume that having dry eye means your eyes are, well, dry. While this isn't wrong, it's not the full picture. With dry eye, symptoms can vary and commonly include:
●dry, scratchy eyes
●swollen eyes that are painful to the touch
●uncontrollable tearing and watery eyes
●a foreign body sensation like something is in your eye and you can’t get it out
●gritty eyes or feeling like sand is in your eyes
As you can imagine, these symptoms are painful and make life a lot harder than it needs to be. Many people with untreated dry eye rely on artificial tears for temporary relief.
The problem with artificial tears is they are just that: temporary. Using artificial tears can help mitigate symptoms of dry eye, but not treat them.
How can I treat dry eye naturally?
Many people with dry eye like the idea of treating their dry eye without using medications. To experience dry eye relief, many patients need to try several different combinations. This can be all-natural, or a combination of medication and natural options.
Incorporate more water into your day
The human body is made up of over 50% water, making hydration pretty important. You may not realize it, but drinking more water and staying hydrated can help your dry eye symptoms!
Like the skin, which looks healthier when you drink more water, your eyes benefit from being hydrated as well. Aim to drink at least 8 eight ounce glasses of water per day.
One way that you can make it easier to drink more water is downloading an app like My Water Balance.
With My Water Balance, you can log the water you're drinking and beverages throughout the day. As you add water and other beverages, My Water Balance calculates how close you are to hitting your goal.
Add Omega-3 fatty acids into your daily diet
Besides drinking more water, people with dry eye can add omega-3 fatty acids into their diet. One way to accomplish this is to eat more vegetables that are green and leafy.
This includes seaweed which gives you an excuse to eat sushi, as well as brussels sprouts and spinach. Other foods that contain lots of omega-3 fatty acids are walnuts, eggs, kale, and many more!
If you don't want to change your diet, you can also take omega-3 supplements. This gives you all the benefits of the omega-3 foods without the work!
With supplements or adding omega-3 foods into your diet, it may take a long time to see any results or improved symptoms.
Visit the Eye Doctors of Chester County or Levin Luminais Chronister Eye Associates when natural dry eye treatments aren't enough
Although natural dry eye treatments can work, they may not be enough to improve your symptoms. If you feel like you've tried every vegetable and you drink more water than a camel, come visit a member of our expert eye care team at Eye Doctors of Chester County in Berwyn or Levin Luminais Chronister Eye Associates in Thorndale, PA!
We'll help you come up with a plan for treating your dry eye with long-lasting results! Depending on the severity of your dry eye symptoms, you may try some of these treatment options:
Restasis eye drops
The first treatment most patients try is usually Restasis. Restasis is a prescription eye drop that increases tear production and reduces inflammation.
Another popular treatment for dry eye when Restasis isn't effective are punctal plugs. Punctal plugs are available in temporary and permanent forms, depending on the patient.
With punctal plugs, the goal is to keep tears in your eyes for longer. For many patients with dry eye, this is a successful treatment option.
IPL (Intense Pulsed Light)
Another treatment option for dry eye is intense pulsed light, or IPL. With IPL, this in-office treatment can help fix tears that don't produce enough oil.
This can often be due to something called Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. MGD is one of the leading causes of dry eye, as well as an eyelid condition called blepharitis.
When undergoing IPL, shields are placed over your eyes. Cooling gel gets applied to the treatment area before light pulses are administered.
The light softens and melts any oils that may have clogged your meibomian glands. After the treatment, one of our doctors will manually express any oil from the glands.
Gland expression allows the eyes to restore the natural flow of oil in the tear film. Though IPL is usually quite successful, most patients need several treatments.
These are usually performed once a month for about 4 months, depending on your results.
For patients with dry eye and MGD, the Eye Doctors of Chester County and Levin Luminais Chronister Eye Associates offer LipiFlow. With LipiFlow, both the inner and outer eyelids get massaged.
LipiFlow uses a combination of heat and pressure with Vector Thermal Pulse Technology. Any heat or pressure used is regulated using sensors.
LipiFlow liquefies blockages in the glands without making contact with the eye's surface. Unlike IPL, most patients who undergo LipiFlow may see results after only a month!
Should I try Lipiflow?
LipiFlow is a treatment that's best for patients who have MGD and severe dry eye symptoms. Often, LipiFlow may be one of the last treatments that we recommend for a patient.
Before trying LipiFlow, you may be prescribed artificial tears, Restasis or punctal plugs. Only after other treatment options have failed will most eye doctors recommend LipiFlow.
If you have severe symptoms from chronic dry eye taking over your life, one of the treatments available at our vision care practice could be right for you!
Take control of your dry eye by scheduling an appointment with the Eye Doctors of Chester County in Berwyn, PA or Levin Luminais Chronister in Thorndale, PA today! There is no reason to suffer through allergy season with dry, irritated eyes any longer!