Dry Eye Treatment in Wilmington
Everyone’s eyes occasionally feel dry or irritated. Unfortunately for some, the symptoms of dry eye are chronic and so severe that they begin to interfere with vision and quality of life. Dry eye syndrome occurs when the eyes chronically lack the lubrication needed to stay sufficiently moisturized. The condition can cause uncomfortable symptoms like burning, itching or watery eyes, sensitivity to light, a scratchy or “foreign body” sensation in the eyes and discomfort wearing contact lenses. Dry eye can happen for a variety of reasons but can be managed and controlled with the expertise of our Wilmington ophthalmologist Dr. Gregory Johnson and optometrist Dr. Gail Kelley.
What Causes Dry Eyes?
Healthy eyes are bathed in a layer of tears at all times; the tears help the eyes stay moisturized and function optimally. A healthy tear film is comprised of three layers: oil, water and mucous layers. If the tear composition lacks one of these critical components, the imbalance can cause problems that lead to dry eye.
A good example of this scenario is meibomian gland dysfunction. These glands are responsible for producing the oily layer of the tear film. If the glands malfunction for any reason, the tear film lacks the oily layer it needs. What can happen is that the tears evaporate off of the eyes’ surface too quickly, and thus fail to keep the eyes sufficiently lubricated.
Another scenario that commonly causes dry eye syndrome is the malfunction of the lacrimal glands, which produce the watery component of the tear film. In this case, the tear film lacks the watery fluid it needs to moisturize the eyes.
In addition to meibomian and lacrimal gland dysfunction, there are a variety of factors that can lead to dry eye syndrome. These include the following:
- Prolonged computer use
- The effects of the aging process
- Environmental factors like dry, windy or arid climates
- Certain autoimmune disorders and other systemic diseases
- Certain medications (e.g., antihistamines, antidepressants, birth control pills)
When Dr. Johnson or Dr. Kelley meet a patient that is experiencing dry eye symptoms, it’s critical for them to determine the root cause of the problem, as that often dictates how they treat the issue.
Treatments for Dry Eyes
Often the first line of defense against dry eyes is the use of artificial tears and prescription eyedrops. Artificial tears supplement natural tear production, and medicated eyedrops can help the eyes produce more tears.
Other treatments are designed to conserve tears by blocking the tiny tear ducts, which forces the tears to stay in the eyes longer. Tiny plugs can be inserted into the tear ducts or surgery can be performed to permanently close the tear ducts.
Many cases of dry eye respond very well to a treatment called LipiFlow. This treatment restores optimal function to malfunctioning meibomian glands. The glands are gently warmed and stimulated to produce the oily layer for the tear film. We have had tremendous success with LipiFlow for the treatment of dry eye and perform the procedure on a regular basis.
Dr. Johnson and Dr. Kelley work with all of our dry eye patients to find the solution best suited to their individual circumstances. We can also recommend lifestyle tweaks to reduce the uncomfortable symptoms of dry eyes, including increasing humidity at home or work, taking nutritional supplements or switching a medication.
Contact Intracoastal Eye
For more information about dry eye syndrome, please contact us at (910) 777-8254 or email Intracoastal Eye today.