Dry eye syndrome is a chronic condition that usually affects older people but can also affect younger ones. It is a relatively complex condition without any cure or a defined playbook for treatment.
The treatment process can become complicated, especially with the variations in the forms of dry eye. The severity of the condition may also dictate the kind of treatment the eye doctor will recommend. The best thing you can do with dry eye syndrome is to manage the disease.
Diagnosing dry eye is critical because it is the only way for an eye doctor to determine the cause of your dry eye disease. Here are the essential exams for determining dry eye:
This is a thorough examination of your vision and eye health, including an evaluation of your health history. The eye doctor will determine what is causing your dry eye from the results.
The first tear volume test is the Schirmer Test, which uses blotting strips of paper placed under your eyelids. The strips soak up tears for about five minutes, and then the eye doctor measures the amount of tears present.
Another test is the phenol red thread test. It involves soaking a pH-sensitive thread in your tears. Your tears will alter the color of the thread, and the results can help the eye doctor know your tears' volume.
The most common tear quality test involves dropping dyes on your eyes and observing the staining patterns. Also, the speed of tears' evaporation can be measured similarly.
This test measures the composition of your tears, where dry eye patients commonly have less water content in their tears.
With mild forms of the condition, regular eye drops or artificial tears will restore moisture and relieve symptoms. However, more comprehensive treatment is required for more severe and chronic forms of the disease. The type of treatment will depend on whether you have low-quality or insufficient tears. The treatment will focus on the underlying cause by reversing or managing it in both situations.
A common cause of dry eye is eyelid inflammation that blocks your oil glands. These produce meibum, a critical tear film layer. You may get oral antibiotics or eye drops to minimize the inflammation and unblock the glands.
You can get a tiny eye insert, LACRISERT®, to place between your eyelids and eyeball. It dissolves over time, lubricating the eye. It works well for moderate to severe forms of the condition when artificial tears fail to work.
The eye doctor may recommend plugging your tear ducts to prevent draining your tears. You can have temporary punctal plugs made of silicone or more permanent thermal cautery plugs.
Special procedures like LipiFlow® can use thermal energy and massaging to unblock your blocked oil glands. The procedure works in the same process as a warm compress, liquidating and coaxing out blobs of thick oils blocking the meibomian glands.
For more information on effective dry eye treatments, contact Chroma Optics at our office in Burlington, Vermont. Call (802) 497-1676 to book an appointment today.