What is dry eye syndrome?
Dry Eye Syndrome is a condition in which the body is not able to product enough tears in order to properly lubricate the eye on a consistent basis. The results of such a condition can range from redness and irritation to headaches, itchiness, blurred vision to extreme discomfort and ocular problems. In some instances this condition can be so severe that it leads to depression and can affect your home and work life.
What are some of the typical symptoms?
In most cases dry eye is easily diagnosed in the office with your optometrist. However, you will notice symptoms such as redness, blurry vision, dry feeling in your eyes, stinging in your eyes, problems wearing contact lenses or even glasses. You may also experience a constant feeling of something in your eye.
In many cases dry eye syndrome can be treated with a prescription of medicated eye drops used daily and / or the use of a prescription steroid. This will provide the eye with the lubricant your body is not able to produce on its own.
In some cases where dry eye is more severe, chronic and a long term condition, there are enhanced solutions that make sense to try and alleviate the symptoms.
A Moisture Retainer is another option provided to patients where a small bio-mechanical device is inserted into the tear duct area of the eye which blocks the drainage of tears. This in turn will help the eye to maintain a layer of moisture over the eye reducing the symptoms associated with dry eye. Moisture Retainers are also commonly known as “Punctal Plugs”.
This procedure is used to treat mild to moderate dry eye symptoms and is quick, painless and are untraceable while they are in place. It would in most cases alleviate the need to use daily eye drops and reduce the cost of managing this condition.
Regenerative Therapy or Amniotic Membrane Placement is where your doctor places a small regenerative layer over the eye. These layers are temporarily inserted over the surface of the eye providing an environment that promotes healing. Sometimes used in the recovery period of ocular surgery, it has the ability to promote and stimulate healing and growth. In combination with a series of medicated drops, this process can alleviate some of the more chronic and severe symptoms associated with the more extreme cases. After a period of time the Amniotic Membrane is removed and the patient can experience highly reduced symptoms. It may however still be necessary to continue a daily cycle of medicated drops depending on the severity of the condition and the individual patient.
This procedure is for the individual with “chronic” and “severe” symptoms that are looking for a solution when all other methods have proved ineffective. In many cases this procedure is a permanent cure to the individual with moderate to severe dry eye. It has also shown to cure what is known as “reoccurring erosions”, where there is a sudden onset of eye pain (typically at night). This procedure is in fact often covered by insurance when all other options have been explored.
Amniotic membranes have been used medically since 1910 to facilitate wound healing and reduce scarring. More recently (since 1995) it has been used ophthalmically (for the eye). The most recent membrane application allows for the membrane to be placed onto the surface of the eye and a breathable contact lens is then placed on the eye to hold the membrane in position. The membrane sends signals to your own stem cells of your eye to grow healthy cells and replace unhealthy cells. The goal is the keep the membrane in place on the eye for anywhere between 24-48 hours for a full therapeutic effect.
If you think you have dry eye and would like to discuss options and solutions, schedule an appointment today in our Dry Eye Clinic and go over what options you have available and what solution is right for you.