Dry Eye Syndrome or "Chronic Dry Eye"
Chronic dry eye is a condition in which the eyes do not produce enough tears or the tears evaporate too quickly. This can cause symptoms such as dryness, irritation, redness, a feeling of foreign body in the eye, and difficulty wearing contact lenses.
There are several potential causes of chronic dry eye, including:
- Age: Dry eye is more common in people over the age of 50.
- Gender: Women are more likely to experience dry eye than men, particularly during menopause.
- Certain medications: Some medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, and antidepressants, can cause dry eye.
- Environmental factors: Dry, windy, or dusty environments can contribute to dry eye.
- Health conditions: Chronic dry eye can be associated with certain health conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome, and thyroid problems.
- Lifestyle factors: Prolonged computer use, reading, or other activities that require sustained focus can cause dry eye.
How to Treat Dry Eye
Treatment for chronic dry eye may include using artificial tears or other eye drops, using a humidifier to add moisture to the air, and avoiding dry environments. In more severe cases, your doctor may recommend other treatments, such as punctal plugs, which block the drainage of tears from the eye, or prescription eye drops.
It is important to see a doctor if you are experiencing chronic dry eye, as untreated dry eye can lead to more serious problems, such as eye infections and damage to the cornea.
3 Ways To Treat Chronic Dry Eye
Home Remedies To Get Rid of or Treat Chronic Dry Eye
- Blink frequently: Blinking helps to spread the tears over the surface of the eye and keep them from evaporating too quickly. Try to blink frequently throughout the day, especially when you are reading, using a computer, or watching television.
- Use artificial tears: Over-the-counter artificial tears can help to lubricate the eyes and provide temporary relief from dryness and discomfort. Look for a brand that is preservative-free, as preservatives can cause irritation in some people.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help to keep your body and eyes hydrated. Aim for at least eight cups of water per day.
- Use a humidifier: Dry air can exacerbate dry eye symptoms, so using a humidifier in your home or office can help to add moisture to the air and keep your eyes from drying out.
- Avoid irritants: Avoid things that can irritate the eyes, such as smoke, dust, and strong winds. Wear protective glasses or goggles if you are in a dusty or windy environment.
- Avoid long periods of screen time: Prolonged use of computers, tablets, and smartphones can cause eye strain and contribute to dry eye symptoms. Take regular breaks and follow the 20-20-20 rule: every 20 minutes, take a 20-second break and look at something 20 feet away.
- Avoid hot, dry environments: Avoid spending long periods of time in hot, dry environments, as these can contribute to dry eye symptoms.
- Use a warm compress: Placing a warm, moist compress over your closed eyes can help to loosen any oils that have become blocked in the glands and improve tear production.
How a Dry Eye Specialist Can Help
If these home remedies do not provide relief, or if your symptoms are severe, it is important to see an eye doctor for further evaluation and treatment. The doctor may recommend other treatments such as eye drops, ointments, or supplements to help manage your chronic dry eye.
Steroid Eye Drops
Steroid eye drops are a type of medication that can be used to treat chronic dry eye and other inflammatory eye conditions. These drops contain corticosteroids, which are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that can help to reduce inflammation and swelling in the eye. Steroid eye drops are generally only used when other treatments, such as artificial tears and warm compresses, have not been effective in relieving symptoms.
Steroid eye drops are generally safe and effective when used as directed, but they can have some potential side effects. Some people may experience temporary stinging or burning when the drops are first applied. Other possible side effects include increased pressure in the eye, cataract formation, and glaucoma. Long-term use of steroid eye drops can also weaken the eye’s immune system and make it more susceptible to infections.
It is important to use steroid eye drops only as directed by a healthcare professional. These drops should not be used for more than a few weeks at a time, as long-term use can lead to serious side effects. If you are considering using steroid eye drops to treat your chronic dry eye, it is important to consult with an eye doctor to determine whether they are appropriate for your specific condition and to discuss the potential risks and benefits.
Restasis and/or Xiidra
Restasis and Xiidra are prescription medications that are used to treat chronic dry eye. These medications work by helping to increase tear production in the eye and reduce inflammation. They are usually reserved for people who have not responded to other treatments, such as artificial tears and warm compresses, or for those with severe dry eye.
Restasis is an eye drop that contains the active ingredient cyclosporine. It is used to increase tear production in people with chronic dry eye that is not caused by inflammation. Restasis is usually used twice a day, and it may take several weeks or months before you notice an improvement in your symptoms.
Xiidra is also an eye drop that contains the active ingredient lifitegrast. It is used to treat the signs and symptoms of dry eye disease, which includes both dryness and inflammation. Xiidra is usually used twice a day, and the benefits of treatment may not be seen for several weeks.
Both Restasis and Xiidra are generally well-tolerated, but they can have some side effects. The most common side effects of Restasis include eye irritation, redness, and a burning sensation. The most common side effects of Xiidra include eye irritation, eye redness, and a burning or stinging sensation.
If you are considering using Restasis or Xiidra to treat your chronic dry eye, it is important to speak with an eye doctor to determine whether these medications are appropriate for your specific condition and to discuss the potential risks and benefits.