Successful Dry Eye Treatments: When Artificial Tears Aren’t Enough
Symptoms of dry eye disease and Meibomian gland dysfunction can be a significant burden on daily life. Artificial tears are most frequently the first line of treatment, but sometimes this treatment method is inadequate. If relief from artificial tears only lasts a short while, or if they do not provide any relief at all, there are many other options to address the uncomfortable symptoms of dry eyes.
Prescription Eye Drops
Artificial tears are over-the-counter drops that are meant to lubricate the ocular surface without any medicinal ingredients. Other drops that require a prescription from an optometrist can also be used to combat dry eye symptoms. Restasis and Xiidra are two prescription eye drops that work to fight inflammation that causes symptoms of dryness and irritation. While these drops can take up to 3 months to begin significantly reducing symptoms of dryness, many people find substantial relief with consistent use of Restasis or Xiidra. Depending on the underlying cause of your specific dry eye disease, the optometrist may prescribe topical steroids to sooth symptoms and reduce inflammation, or antibiotic drops to fight bacteria that can cause problems with the tear film. If you are given a prescription for an eye drop to treat dry eyes, it is important to use the drops exactly as directed in order to effectively address the signs and symptoms of dry eye disease.
In cases of dry eye disease that are resistant to treatment with artificial tears or medicated eye drops, punctal plugs may be an option. Punctal plugs are small collagen implants placed inside the tiny tear drain of the lower eyelid. Depending on the type of implant, punctal plugs can last from a couple of days to months at a time. These implants aim to keep the eye’s natural tears on the front surface of the eye for a longer period of time by slowing the drainage of tears. This treatment option is typically most successful for people who suffer from aqueous deficient dry eye, in which an inadequate amount of tears arebeing produced. The application of the implants is quick, painless, and may be covered by insurance.
Dry Eye Treatments: Meibomian Gland Expression
For those suffering from dry eye symptoms due to underlying Meibomian gland dysfunction, releasing the meibum from the clogged Meibomian glands is an important and effective way to provide significant relief. In mild cases, doctors may recommend warm compresses in attempt to soften and release the clogged meibum oil. Warm compresses are easily completed at home with only a heated washcloth. Sometimes, Meibomian gland expression can be done by an optometrist in the office by carefully applying pressure to the Meibomian glands, unclogging and releasing the oil necessary for ocular comfort and nourishment. Another option for Meibomian gland expression is a device known as Lipiflow, which covers the eye and distributes carefully regulated heat and pressure to unclog the glands and release the oil.
If your symptoms of dry eye disease are resistant to first-line treatment, ask your doctor about further treatment options to reduce discomfort and improve your life.