Dry eye is a common complaint accompanied by symptoms like gritty or burning sensation, light sensitivity, excessive tears, and sometimes, blurred vision. One of the most effective dry eye treatment is over-the-counter eye drops. However, there are other treatment options like prescription eye drops and artificial tears to relieve the symptoms.
This article covers everything you should know about dry eye treatment to improve your quality of life and vision.
What Causes Dry Eye?
Dry eye is caused by various independent or combined factors, including;
- Reduced tear production
As the name implies, a reduction or decline in tear production from the lacrimal gland can cause dry eyes. The problem can also be interlinked with Sjogren’s syndrome, a medical condition that causes an onset of declining tear production. Additional factors or risks of reduced tear production include old age, use of contact lenses, and diabetes.
- Increased tear loss
Unlike reduced tear production, increased tear loss means the victim is losing more of their tears from the eye surface. This problem is commonly caused by a condition known as swollen eyelids or posterior blepharitis. Other factors that can cause increased tear loss include eye allergies, the use of contact lenses, and decreased blinking.
Other factors that have been implicated in the cause of dry eyes include:
Old age: The body tends to become weaker as we age. This is the same for the tear gland, which will likely produce fewer tears as the body ages. The effect of age in relation to dry eyes is more common in women undergoing menopause due to hormonal changes.
Medications: Using certain medications can affect the eyes and the lacrimal gland. Some allergy medications or blood pressure-regulating medications may significantly impact tear formation, thus exposing users to temporary or prolonged dry eyes.
Medical conditions: Some medical conditions, including symptoms of Covid-19 and autoimmune diseases, may affect tear production.
Eye conditions: Blepharitis is an eye condition linked to dry eye. It can, however, be corrected with surgery.
Environment: Environmental factors can also affect the chances of experiencing dry eyes. For example, people living in deserts or those in windy and dry environments may likely suffer from dry eyes.
Treatments for Dry Eye
You can choose from any of the following classes of dry eye treatment, depending on the severity;
- Over-The-Counter Dry Eye Drops
Over-the-counter dry eye drops are the most accessible treatment for dry eyes. In fact, they are often the first choice solution for many people experiencing the problem.
OTC eye drops are available in many brand names and forms and can be purchased from the local pharmacy.
You can also choose preservative-free OTC eye drops. These are often more expensive and are recommended in more sensitive situations. The direction for use is on the package purchased but generally requires one drop four times a day (at six hours intervals) for a few days to ease the effect.
If you’re suffering from itchy eyes as a symptom of dry eyes, you may choose a tear patch or artificial tears to address this symptom. This is also available in different brand names at pharmacies.
- Prescription Eye Drops for Dry Eyes
You should see a dry eye specialist if the over-the-counter dry eye drops don’t work.
Dry eye specialists can assess the condition to understand the problem and recommend the best possible treatments and products. In such cases, you’ll be recommended or prescribed a stronger, prescription-strength eye drop to ease the pain and symptoms.
Common prescription-strength eye drops recommended by dry eye specialists include Restasis and Xiidra. Restasis has been available on the market for years and is recommended for use twice daily (12 hours apart). Xiidra, on the other hand, is new to the market and is to be used in similar directions.
Both prescription-grade eye drops for dry eye have been reported to provide improvements in 2 weeks of use. However, patients may need to see their dry eye specialist if they don’t see significant improvement within 2 weeks and 3 months.
- Home Remedies
Home remedies are also an important way to deal with dry eye. Some of the recommended treatment approaches include;
Changing environment: Environment is one of the risk factors for dry eyes. You should change your environment if you currently live in a desert area or place with dry air.
Lifestyle changes: Lifestyle changes involves modifying what you eat, supplements, and more. Some recommended modifications include consuming a healthy and balanced diet, taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements, and sleeping.
Acupuncture: Acupuncture is an ancient Chinese medicine that has been famed for many health benefits, including improvements in dry eyes. There have also been small studies to show the treatment’s effectiveness in treating the condition.
Do you or a loved one suffer from dry eyes? The tips above can help you zero in on the right treatment option. And if all else fails, a certified ophthalmologist can help you further address the condition.