Due to the myriad of over-the-counter artificial tears and other topical remedies, anyone experiencing dry eye symptoms should get help from their optometrist at their earliest convenience. Many people waste money and time on drops that are no help, whereas seeking help from an optometrist will resolve the problem much faster.
Your eye doctor will start with an exam that requires some very specific observations and some simple, painless testing that will help detect and grade the level of dry eye. There are also some very important questions for patients to answer that will help determine the severity and course of treatment.
Typical treatment: Simple artificial tears to replenish tears and warm compresses to help with oil secretions to the tears will help most mild dry eye. Often using artificial tears with an oil component will be very effective. Inflammation also plays a role in dry eye and needs to be treated when detected. There are a number of ways to help inflammation, including Omega 3 fish oil supplements and prescription topical steroids or cyclosporine.
Some patients experience a watering of the eye, called epiphora. This is commonly a result of dry eye as reflex watering is a protection mechanism to help temporarily keep the eyes moist. There can also be drainage canals that are blocked causing overflow of tears onto the face, but it is less common than dry eye.
It is important to know that there are a number of factors that will increase the likelihood of dry eye. Some include computer vision syndrome, medications, eyelid inflammation (blepharitis), longstanding contact lens wear, systemic inflammatory conditions and familial predisposition.
Most people with dry eye will experience a heightened severity during winter months. Individuals especially affected are those with an evaporative component to their dry eye.
Reducing the risk of inflammation is important in preventing dry eye Firstly, lid hygiene using lid wipes to reduce eyelid inflammation is helpful. Taking Omega 3 fish oil supplements can also help with inflammation systemically and are safe and good for general health.