What are the symptoms of dry eyes?
The symptoms include itchy, burning, scratchy eyes, a foreign body sensation,sensitivity to light, and tearing. Other symptoms include crusting, matting of thelids, redness, eye rubbing, tired eyes, and blurring vision.
My eyes water, how can they be dry?
Tears are composed of mainly water and oils. The oils come from special oilglands near the base of the eyelashes. The water comes from another gland above your eye. The oils help to prevent tear evaporation and allows the tears to stick to the eye surface. Without good oils mixed into your tears, the eye surface dries and the vision blurs. When dryness occurs, the eye signals the brain to produce more tears. This causes the eyes to water, but again these tears evaporate and cannot stick to the surface. This is why it is common for patients with dry eyes to complain of both blurred vision and tearing.
How can omega 3 fatty acids, help with dry eyes?
Lid inflammation reduces the quality of tears released into the eye. Inflammation also causes the oils within the oil glands to become thickened and sludge-like. Omega 3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation and improve the oils within the tears. Increasing dietary forms of omega 3 fatty acids can help to reduce dry eye syndrome. Good sources of omega 3 fatty acids include salmon, sardines,halibut, herring, mackerel, tuna, chia seeds, walnuts, flaxseed, and pumpkinseeds. If you are not getting enough of these in your diet, ask your doctor if fish oil supplementation is right for you. Please note fish oils can increase the blood thinning effect of warfarin, and/or aspirin. The proper dosing of omega 3 fatty acids for dry eyes is 2000mg a day. Ask your eye doctor what Omega 3 is best for dry eyes as all Omega 3s are not alike.
What is blepharitis?
Blepharitis is a chronic, inflammatory disease of the eyelids caused by an overgrowth of bacteria. Over 70% of dry eye cases are caused by blepharitis. Blepharitis affects about 1/3 of the population and is more common as we get older.
How does blepharitis affect my eyes?
The overgrowth of bacteria causes crusting along the eyelids and creates a sticky biofilm (which is like plaque on teeth). This film can take years to build up and contains bacterial debris called exotoxins. The exotoxins cause inflammation and can adversely affect all of the structures of the eyelid including the oil glands.Damage to the oil glands causes dry eye syndrome.
What other symptoms does blepharitis cause?
Blepharitis can also damage the eyelids. This damage can be permanent and can lead to misdirected lashes, a loss of lashes, and/or a loss of oil glands. As the damage progresses, the lids can scar and turn inwards or outwards. This isa main cause of dry eye symptoms.
Can blepharitis be treated?
Yes. Artificial tears and lid scrubs can be used, but lid cleaning is slow to produce an improvement in signs and symptoms. Another option includes an in-office deep cleaning procedure called BlephEx. BlephEx exfoliates and cleans the bacteria and its biofilm off the eyelids and lashes. This procedure can immediately improve dry eye symptoms. It also helps to control the long-term damage to your oil glands. After the in-office treatment, daily lid cleaning is needed to maintain the effect. The BlephEx procedure is usually performed 1 to 2times a year. The procedure does not hurt and is easily tolerated.
Why are lid scrubs important?
The eyelids, like the entire skin of our body, have a normal flora of bacteria. With blepharitis, the normal flora overgrows and becomes unbalanced. Cleaning the lids can help to slow the overgrowth of bacteria.
Before your lids are cleaned, you may want to do warm compresses. The simplest and most effective option would be to use a heat mask. A heat mask can stay warm for upwards of 10 minutes, and can be used while reclining.
Examples of heat mask include Bruder’s Eye Mask. You want a mask that is antibacterial and easy to use. Instructions for the heat mask are included in each package. The heat melts the thick contaminated oils so your healthy oils can be released. The cleaning procedure below removes the bad oils and keeps your eyelids free of excess bacteria.
How do you perform lid scrubs?
Use a recommended lid cleaner, which comes in a foam or pad. Place one pump of the cleaner onto a flat cotton pad, not a cotton ball that will become messy.Shut your eyes. Clean the top row of lashes in a gentle circular and horizontal motion. Open your eyes. Clean the bottom row of lashes. Then rinse with water.If you are using the wipes, perform the same procedure except the cleaning agent is already in the wipes. Both the wipes and foam are equally effective, it’s a matter of preference.
Dry Eyes Are a Chronic Disease
Follow-up visits are important to assure your ocular surface remains healthy.The more years you have dry eyes, you will lose sensation to the ocular surfaceand may think everything is fine. Dry eyes can cause eye infections, lid damage and scarring of your cornea. Follow-up care will prevent further damage to your eyes. Each patient is different and may have a different treatment plan. We are here for you and are available to answer all your questions.