Dry Eye Treatment in Portland OR
What is Dry Eye?
Dry eye is a common condition that occurs when the eyes are insufficiently moisturized, leading to itching, redness, and pain from dry spots on the surface of the eye. The eyes may become dry and irritated because the tear ducts don’t produce enough tears, or because the tears themselves have a chemical imbalance.
Causes Of Dry Eye
In moist Portland, it could seem difficult to develop dry eye, but the causes are usually more internal. Dry eye can develop when the tear ducts are not producing a sufficient number of tears. Or the condition can be due to a chemical imbalance in the tears themselves. Natural tears require a particular chemical balance to lubricate the eyes efficiently. Sometimes, your eyes are actually overproducing tears due to the irritation in your eyes, but the tears aren’t the right consistency to help.
Aging makes us all more likely to develop dry eye — it’s more common in people over the age of 50. It can be a side effect of taking certain medications, a sign of another medical condition, or the results from an injury.
Women tend to get dry eye more than men due to the hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy and menopause. Oral contraceptives can also lead to inconsistent tear ingredients.
These are other causes of dry eye:
- Antihistamines, decongestants, and blood pressure medications
- Environmental conditions such as smoke, wind, and excessive sun
- Eye injury
- Long-term contact lens use
- Eye or eyelid surgery
- Conjunctivitis or keratitis
- Rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, Sjogren’s syndrome, thyroid disease
Symptoms Of Dry Eye
These are the signs and symptoms of dry eye, which usually affects both eyes:
- Stinging, burning, or scratchy sensation in your eyes
- Stringy mucus in or around your eyes
- Sensitivity to light
- Eye redness
- Blurred vision
- A sensation of having something in your eyes
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
- Difficulty with nighttime driving
- Watery eyes
- Eye fatigue
Why Does Dry Eye Cause Blurry Vision?
Dry eye can cause blurry vision. A healthy tear film doesn’t simply keep the front of the eye moist, it is also important for clear vision. Your tears must have the correct balance of water, oils, and mucus to allow the tear film to spread evenly across the surface of the cornea. If the tears evaporate too easily or become too oily and mucus-filled, these can make your vision blurry. Blinking fully and frequently can decrease this, as it spreads the tear film across the cornea.
Diagnosing Dry Eye
Your doctor can diagnose dry eye after a thorough evaluation of your eye and tear production through a Schirmer tear test.
dry eye treatment
When your dry eye is persistent, Dr. Wilkins, Dr. Donohue, or Dr. Samples will diagnose the cause and provide the appropriate treatment. These are some treatment options.
- Switching medications — Since certain medications, such as anti-anxiety drugs, have a side effect of causing dry eye, simply changing to another available drug can end your dry eye.
- Eyelid problems — For entropion or ectropion, where the eyelids are turned the wrong way, you’ll need to have surgery to correct the eye controlling muscles.
- Treating the disease — If you have rheumatoid arthritis or thyroid disease, treating those conditions can alleviate your dry eye.
- Medications for dry eye — We may prescribe various medications to treat your dry eyes:
- Eyedrops to control cornea inflammation — If you have inflammation on your cornea, this can be controlled with prescription eye drops that contain immune-suppressing medication, called Restasis. Corticosteroids can also be used, but not long term.
- Drugs to reduce eyelid inflammation — If you have inflammation along the edge of your eyelids this can limit the amount of oil secreted into the tears, making them too watery and easily evaporated. Antibiotics will reduce inflammation.
- Eye inserts — If artificial tears don’t work, we may prescribe tiny inserts, hydroxypropyl cellulose (brand name Lacrisert), to be inserted between your lower eyelid and your eyeball. These slowly dissolve, releasing lubricating substances.
- Tear-stimulating drugs — Certain drugs called cholinergic increase tear production.
- Punctal plugs — If your tears are exiting your eyes too quickly, we may opt to partially or completely close your tear ducts. To do this, tiny silicone plugs, known as punctual plugs, are inserted into the ducts. These are removable if your condition changes.
- Unblocking oil glands — Warm compresses can be effective for clearing blocked oil glands in your eyelids with warm compresses.
- Special contact lenses — A newer option for chronic dry eye are contact lenses that protect the eye surface and trap moisture. These are called scleral lenses.
Can fish oil help with my dry eye?
Over the past few years, fish oil has been suggested as a possible treatment for dry eye. This is good news for us salmon-loving denizens of the Northwest! Fish oil contains two omega-3 fatty acids, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EHA), which have been shown to provide various health benefits. It appears that these fatty acids may improve the eye’s oil film that’s produced by the small glands on the edge of the eyelid, the meibomian glands. This oil helps keep your tears from evaporating too quickly from your eye, which leads to dry eye. Fish oil also seems to reduce inflammation and irritation of both the eyelids and the surface of the eye.
How much fish oil do I need to treat dry eye?
You can get fish oil in your diet, and most of us do here in Portland. Fatty fish are full of the stuff: salmon, halibut, striped sea bass, albacore tuna, and catfish are all good sources. As a supplement, research studies on fish oil have advocated 180 milligrams of EHA and 120 milligrams of DHA taken twice daily. Higher doses of fish oil supplements have been shown to have some harmful side effects, so don’t overdo it.
It’s a good idea to first talk with the team at The Eye Clinic about your dry eye and taking fish oil supplements.
What Happens if Dry Eye Goes Untreated?
It is important for patients with this condition to take special care of their eyes in order to alleviate symptoms and prevent complications. Patients with this condition often experience irritating symptoms and can suffer from more serious vision damage if this condition is left untreated.