Torontonians typically rejoice when the warm, dry weather finally arrives, but if you suffer from dry eye, you may dread bright sunny days at the beach. The wind blowing off Lake Ontario may not actually be flinging grit into your eyes, but if you have severely dry eyes, it may feel that way. Factors like pollution, overuse of contact lenses, not blinking enough during visual tasks like computer use, aging, hormonal changes, medication intake, and diseases like blepharitis (persistent and common inflammation of the eyelids) can play a significant role in reducing the moisture in your eyes.
People often casually say “My eyes feel dry”, but chronic dry eye – the kind that requires repeated application of drops just for the eye to feel normal – usually refers to either a lack of moisture reaching the surface of the eye, or tears that do reach the ocular surface but evaporate too quickly.
Symptoms of dry eye include:
- Itching, discomfort and irritation
- Grittiness in the eye
- Burning or stinging
- Redness, tearing up
- Tiredness, blurred vision (especially as the day wears on)
- Light sensitive
Because many of these symptoms are mimicked by allergies, fatigue and eye strain, they may be attributed to other conditions and the root cause can go untreated. Given our decades of experience performing vision-correcting laser eye surgeries, UELC doctors recognize the signs and symptoms of true dry eye and are experts in diagnosing and treating the various underlying conditions that cause dry eye.
The majority of patients with dry eye symptoms have a glandular dysfunction known as Evaporative Dry Eye. In many cases, the cause is meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) which is a condition whereby the meibomian glands, located in the eyelids, produce fewer lipids (oils) within the tear film. This results in tears evaporating faster than they can be produced. Treatment of Evaporative Dry Eye includes conservative measures such as lid hygiene with warm compresses and lid scrubs, along with artificial tear supplementation. Your doctor may also recommend Omega-3 fatty acid supplements which play a role in modulating the production of good quality tears.
Through a series of quantitative and qualitiative diagnostic testing, the professional staff at UELC will be able to determine the severity and the type of dry eye that you are suffering from. With this information, your doctor will then recommend a treatment regimen that will target your specific type of dry eye disease.
The LipiFlow® Thermal Pulsation System represents a revolutionary shift in dealing with MGD. It works to effectively relieve blockage of the eyelid glands by opening and cleaning the blocked glands to allow the body to resume proper production of lipids. Not only do most patients who have the LipiFlow® treatment feel relief of their symptoms within a few weeks and sometimes even sooner; this simple, painless treatment is known to be a long term solution to the problem, meaning you can say goodbye to eyedrops and hot compresses forever!
If your eyes don’t tear up when they really should, you may suffer from a different form of dry known as Aqueous Dry Eye, which is simply caused by the lacrimal gland in the eye not being physically able to produce enough tears. There are several treatment options for Aqueous Dry Eye, including artificial tear supplements and punctal plugs which work by plugging the punctum in the eyelids that drain the tears, thus preserving the tears you do have present. Restasis is also an effective medication for treating Aqueous Dry Eye; it works by increasing the amount of tear production in the lacrimal gland.
There is no need to continue to let the annoying, painful nuisance of dry eye impair your ability to carry out daily tasks like night driving, watching TV or using your computer. Our clinic is a pioneer among eye clinics in Vaughan offering safe, effective procedures to treat the symptoms and the underlying causes of dry eye. Visit our state-of-the-art clinic today to find out more about how to banish dry eye from your life and restore comfort to your vision.