What is dry eye?
Dry eye is a common problem caused by many different mechanisms. These mechanisms ultimately lead to excessive evaporation or a decrease in the production of tears, a major component of the tear film.
The tear film is a complex layer of protein, water, and oils. This multilayer needs to be in perfect proportion to stick together, remain stable and avoid excessive evaporation. For many years, dry eye has been treated solely with artificial tears. Modern dry eye treatments however, focus on identifying and treating specific causes to dry eye and provide more sustainable results.
Common causes include:
How can I have dry eyes if I am tearing?
Surprisingly, excessive tearing is one of the most common symptoms of dry eye. Dry eye disrupts the constant production of well-balanced tears causing your eyes to be chronically irritated. This can trigger intermittent episodes of excessive, unstable tearing.
How do you treat dry eye?
As mentioned before, modern treatments for dry eye focus on addressing specific factors causing the disease. Besides supplemental lubrication, it may be necessary to use medications to control the ocular surface inflammation, frequently associated to the dryness. Some cases may also require procedures, such as inserting special plugs, to delay the drainage of the tear film from the ocular surface.
What is evaporative dry eye?
Evaporative dry eye is a condition caused by excessive tear evaporation, which normally is controlled by a thin layer of oils floating over the watery component of the tear film. This oily fluid, called meibum, is produced by the meibomian glands, located along the eye-lid margins. Meibum can sometimes be thicker than usual, a condition known as meibomian gland dysfunction, which is found in the vast majority of people with dry eyes. This can lead to an unstable oily layer that facilitates evaporation.
How do you treat Meibomian Gland Dysfunction?
It is difficult to normalize meibum secretion. Its quality, however, can be improved with periodic drainage of the Meibomian glands. This process involves warming up the eyelids (in order to melt the meibum) and squeezing out the glands. This can be done manually, or with different specialized technologies. Additionally, nutritional supplements rich in omega 3 fatty acids have proven to be effective.
Are all artificial tears the same?
No. The main differences include whether or not they have preservatives, their viscosity (their thickness), and the chemical composition of the lubricant itself. Therefore, depending on your specific situation, some artificial tears might be more effective than others.