Dry eye is an extremely common eye condition with higher prevalence in the elderly and among women. Approximately 10-15% of adults over the age of 65 suffer from dry eyes. Some patients will have an underlying endocrine or immunologic condition, such as thyroid disease, Sjogren’s syndrome, or rheumatoid arthritis that results in decreased tear production.
What are the Symptoms of Dry Eye?
Symptoms of dry eye include irritation, redness, stinging or burning, and contact lens intolerance. Blurry vision or eye strain is also common, particularly at the end of the day or with prolonged reading or computer work. Patients also often describe a gritty sensation in the eyes, and tearing, although seemingly counterintuitive, is a frequent complaint as the irritation from the dryness stimulates additional tear production.
What are the treatment options?
Dry eye can be a cause of significant discomfort and can greatly affect quality of life. Fortunately, a number of treatments are available that can help provide relief. The Santa Monica Eye Medical Group offers a highly-effective solution called the LipiFlow® Thermal Pulsation System. This procedure applies heat and peristaltic motion to the eyelid to remove gland obstructions and stagnant gland content. LipiFlow is a clinically proven and minimally invasive procedure, performed in our office. The LipiFlow treatment can unblock glands, interrupt physical deterioration and, in most cases, provide relief from dry eye symptoms.
We also offer the TrueTear® Neurostimulator, which sends tiny pulses of energy to a nerve in the nasal cavity that innervates signals to your brain. Those signals are then sent back down to your tear glands, temporarily stimulating natural tear production. Likewise, the TrueTear is a clinically proven device, minimally invasive, and used right in our office.
What are some things I can do to further alleviate Dry Eyes?
Environmental changes such as avoiding smoke-filled places or using a humidifier to increase the moisture in the air are important first steps. Dietary modifications, including increasing hydration and consuming foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, flaxseeds, walnuts, almond), are also beneficial. Artificial tear drops and lubricating ointments are available over the counter and are also useful first-line treatments.