What Is Dry Eye Disease?
Our eyes need tears to nourish, sustain and lubricate our eyes. Dry eye disease, which is usually caused by insufficient tears or poor quality tears, leaves our eyes parched. This results in a variety of unpleasant symptoms, such as itchy, red, and sore eyes.
Many people suffer from this chronic syndrome without realizing that it can permanently harm their eyes. Because this is a progressive condition, it is critical to get treatment before symptoms exacerbate to the point that it harms the cornea. Without treatment or proper medication, Dry eye disease often worsens over time.
How Do I Know If I Have Dry Eye Disease?
Do any of these symptoms seem familiar?
- Gritty, itchy, or sandy eyes
- Excessive tearing and discharge
- Eyes that feel tired or dry
- Increased light sensitivity
- Regularly using eye drops
- Discomfort that worsens as the day progresses
- Fluctuations in vision
- Red eyes
- burning or stinging eyes
Suffering from dry eye disease not only diminishes your quality of life but also makes daily activities such as reading, doing sports, or driving a struggle.
Think you have dry eye disease? Get to the root of your eye discomfort by contacting us today.
What Causes Dry Eyes?
While over eighty percent (80%) of dry eye cases are due to blocked oil glands in the eyelids — a condition called meibomian gland dysfunction or evaporative dry eye — many other factors can cause this syndrome. These include:
Sex – the majority of dry eye sufferers are women. This tends to be caused by hormonal changes, whether through the use of contraceptives, pregnancy or menopause.
Age – there’s a higher prevalence of dry eye disease in those over 50 years of age
Environment – dry wind, dry air and dry climates can evaporate the tears. Home and car heaters, air conditioners, fans and hair dryers also cause tears to evaporate.
Medication – these include antidepressants, decongestants and blood pressure medications.
Auto-immune disorders – Sjogren’s disease and arthritis, among others.
Lasting & Effective Dry Eye Treatment
Our dry eye program works like therapy, where we aren't simply prescribing a quick medication, but rather we want to create an individualized solution for each patient. Prior to administering any treatment, we need to get to the root cause in order to offer the most adequate treatment possible.
Because of the variety of treatments that can help relieve dry eye symptoms, a dry eye examination is essential to know what treatment to start. For example, prescription drops may help relieve inflammatory tear deficiency, while mild cases of dry eye can benefit from non-prescription treatments including heat masks, lid scrubs, gland debridement, artificial tears, or punctal plugs among others.
Learn More about Dry Eye Disease | FAQ
How are Watery Eyes Related to Dry Eye?
Excessively watery eyes may signal the presence of dry eye disease. While this might seem paradoxical, it is a common symptom of dry eye. Dry eyes can cause your eyes to produce too many tears in order to make up for tears that evaporate too quickly due to a problem with your eyelid glands. You might also have watery eyes if your tear ducts are fully or partially blocked.
Is There a Cure for Dry Eye Disease?
While there is no cure for this condition, topical steroids, punctal plugs, and other treatment methods can provide long-term relief, so that your dependence on eye drops is diminished and symptoms are significantly reduced. For more information, visit our Dry Eye Treatment Page
Do Gels, Ointments, & Artificial Tears Help Dry Eyes?
Healthy eyes need to remain lubricated. A dry ocular surface can lead to eye abrasions and erosions, which may — in severe cases — result in eye ulcers and reduced vision. While most people with dry eyes reduce discomfort by using lubricants, drops, and ointment, the relief is only temporary and doesn't address the root problem. Contact us for effective and lasting dry eye treatment today.
While nearly every eye doctor provides dry eye services, making the decision to find a dry eye professional that much more difficult, we encourage you to contact us for a phone consultation.
We’re happy to share with you information about our dry eye program, and the type of results we’ve provided other patients for significant lasting improvements within a relatively short period of time. Contact us to find out how we can help you relieve your dry eye symptoms and start managing your eye health successfully, today.
About Dry Eye Exams
Is a dry eye exam different than a normal eye exam? When do you do it?
Yes, it is a separate exam. Dry eye is a chronic progressive disease, and that’s something that we’re passionate about addressing here at Premier Eye Associates. So, we screen all of our patients with a dry eye questionnaire, and for anyone that’s symptomatic, we look for signs of dry eye. If they have signs, we recommend the evaluation to determine the exact type that they have. This allows us to create a custom treatment plan that prevents progression by addressing not only the symptoms but their root causes as well.
Who could benefit from a dry eye exam?
Anyone that has even mild symptoms and any sign of dry eye disease should have a dry eye exam done. Even early symptoms, such as occasional tearing, itching or burning can be a sign of an underlying disease that, if not addressed, may worsen.
How long does a dry eye exam take? And what does the patient get out of it?
The whole thing should take about an hour. This includes the initial workup, where we take all the pictures and the tear samples, and then the doctor will typically come in and look with the dyes and the meibomian gland evaluator and check everything under the microscope. We review all the pictures and tests we did with the patient, and each patient walks out with a dry eye report which shows them all the testing we did, their results, if it was normal or abnormal, and a customized treatment plan.
How much of the exam is covered by insurance?
For the dry eye exam, the only out-of-pocket expense would be the meibography. Everything else gets billed to the medical insurance. And then the various dry eye treatments we perform in-office are all typically out-of-pocket. Medical insurance companies consider them elective.
Regardless of insurance, we’ll always make recommendations based on what will help you the most. If you have any questions, let us know.