Historically, the primary treatment for dry eyes was to use lubrication eye drops or ointment multiple times per day. In the past few years, many more treatment options have become available for patients suffering from Dry Eye Disease. Many of these treatments can be combined to provide the best outcome based on each patient’s individual needs.
Over-The-Counter Lubrication Drops: This is the least expensive and most highly available treatment for problems, although it is not a perfect treatment for Dry Eye Disease. This treatment supplements the natural tear layer but does nothing to treat the underlying cause of Dry Eye Disease. For a patient who experiences occasional dry eyes, this is a good option. It is also a reasonable additive option for some of the more permanent treatments listed below.
Prescription Drops/Sprays: There are a few prescription drops that are available to treat dry eyes. Some of these drops are anti-inflammatory, some increase tear production, and some are even nasal sprays. These options are not always covered by insurance and can be expensive. They can be effective in some cases but, similar to over-the-counter eye drops, only alleviate the symptoms but do not treat the underlying cause of Dry Eye Syndrome.
Punctal Plugs: These are tiny medical devices usually made of silicone that are inserted into the tear ducts. This is similar to “plugging a drain”. Once inserted the tears can not drain into the nasal passages and stay in the eye much longer.
Meibomian Gland Expression: This treatment specifically releases oil buildup in the meibomian glands. The doctor applies gentle pressure to the edge of the eyelids with an instrument or Q-Tip.
Lipiflow: An in-office treatment that uses gentle heat to remove blockages around the meibomian glands. Like similar treatments listed above, it still does not remove the inflammation around the meibomian glands.
Intense Pulsating Light (IPL): The newest treatment for Dry Eye Disease and the most complete treatment that we offer at Beach Cities Optometry. Inflammation around the tear glands can damage the tissue and lead to a lower quality and quantity of tears. IPL uses short pulses of light focussed on the upper cheeks and eyelids. The energy from the IPL light disrupts the inflammatory process and creates an environment for the meibomian glands to function properly.
Eye Vitamins/Omega 3 Fish Oils: Diet and supplements can help to maintain proper eye moisture. Studies have shown that a proper amount of Omega 3 oils can be beneficial for general health as well as improving tear layer mechanics by slightly decreasing inflammation around the meibomian glands.