When Tears Aren’t Enough – By Paul Glass, OD |
WHAT IS DRY EYE?
Dry eye is a common medical issue, annually affecting over 30 million patients over age 50 in the United States and almost 300 million people worldwide. Women are almost twice as prone to dry eye syndrome than men. Common symptoms often include blurred vision, redness, burning, itching, gritty or sandy feeling, and even excessive tearing. With so many over the counter artificial tear options, prescription drugs, and interventional dry eye treatments available, what is the best treatment plan for you?
A LITTLE BACKGROUND. WHAT IS A TEAR?
Our tears consist of 3 main layers that create our tear film. We have a watery (or aqueous) layer, an oil (or lipid) layer, and a mucous layer. Your dry eye may be the result of an insufficiency or irregularity of one or more of these layers. At St. Luke’s Cataract & Laser Institute, our physicians thoroughly examine your tear film and customize a dry eye program to manage your specific type of dry eye.
TREATMENT OPTIONS AT ST. LUKE’S
Once a diagnosis of dry eye is made, a tailored management plan is initiated. When artificial tears alone do not suffice, a prescription medication may be an option. Our physicians are fully versed in the medical benefits of today’s most widely used prescription drop therapy. Often these medications take 6 weeks to feel and notice improvement and can have a very high success rate in dry eye symptom relief.
Another effective way in treating dry eye at St. Luke’s is the use of Punctal Plugs. Punctal Plugs are covered by most health insurances for the treatment of dry eye. The procedure takes seconds to do and you can drive yourself to and from your appointment. A small silicone “plug” is gently placed in the lower eyelid and retains more of the natural tear in your eye providing relief and hydration. Plugs can last months to years with benefits day after day. After having plugs placed, patients often find themselves using artificial tear less often. Plugs can be used in conjunction with artificial tears and prescription drop therapy.
STATE OF THE ART DRY EYE THERAPY:
At St. Luke’s, we are proud to offer Lipiflow. Lipiflow is a new treatment option available for patients that treats a common source of dry eye. Our eyelids have hundreds of oil glands called meibomian glands. These meibomian glands can develop blockages over the first four decades of our life, which can ultimately cause a decrease in the production of the protective oily layer of our tear film. Without these oils, our eyes are more susceptible to redness, burning, and grittiness. Lipiflow is an FDA approved safe and effective in office treatment that takes 15 minutes to complete. The procedure clears gland blockages and helps restore gland function. Results are 80% effective with noticeable improvement in 6 weeks.
If you are experiencing Dry Eye and would like to explore treatment options with an experienced eye care professional, call St. Luke’s today at 888-904-0000.