The doctors at Wiles Eye Center are dedicated to providing dry eye treatment for various forms of dry eye syndrome including evaporative dry eye, dry eye caused by ocular rosacea and eye allergies. Wiles Eye Center is also proud to be one of the few accredited dry eye centers in Kansas City and St. Joseph. Dry eye can be a complex condition, and our staff is dedicated to fully understanding your specific condition and providing a customized dry eye treatment plan to provide the relief you need.
What Is Dry Eye?
Healthy eyes are continuously covered by fluid called the tear film. A stable tear film allows your eyes to maintain clear, comfortable and stable vision. Decreased production of tears from the lacrimal gland or an imbalance of the three layers of the tear film can cause dry spots on the surface of your eye. Symptoms of dry eye include burning, tearing and blurry vision. Dry eyes are common in adults over 40 years of age and can be associated with conditions such as diabetes and arthritis. Medications such as antihistamines, diuretics, birth control pills, high blood pressure medications and antidepressants may also increase the risk of dry eye. Dry eyes can also be a side effect of LASIK or cosmetic eye surgery. Research shows that overexposure to the sun can lead to dry eye.
Dry eye disease is a chronic and progressive condition. Common symptoms include:
- an itchy sensation
- a stinging, burning sensation
- a gritty or sandy sensation
- sensitivity to light
- excessive tearing
- eye fatigue
- heavy eyes
- sore eyes
- red eyes
- foreign body sensation
- blurry vision or difficulty seeing at night
Experiencing dry eye symptoms can be temporary for some people, while others find that recurring dry eye disease symptoms can be ongoing and limit their daily activities including reading, driving at night, watching TV, working on the computer, and/or wearing contact lenses.
Surprisingly there are a large number of Americans who endure the discomfort and frustration of living with the symptoms of chronic dry eye. Approximately 5 million Americans experience symptoms of dry eye and many may not even know they have it.
It is important to know that dry eye disease is a chronic and progressive condition, without dry eye treatment, the condition can continue, and you may experience more pronounced symptoms over time. Severe cases of dry eye can lead to inflammation and permanent damage to the surface of the eye. The dry eye doctors at Wiles Eye Center are dedicated to providing top-quality, customized treatment solutions for our patients.
Who is Likely to Develop Dry Eye?
While elderly people frequently experience dryness of the eyes, dry eye can occur at any age. Nearly 5 million Americans 50 years of age and older are estimated to have dry eye. Of these, more than 3 million are women and more than 1.5 million are men. Dry eye is more common among women after menopause. Women who experience menopause prematurely are more likely to have eye surface damage from dry eye.
Environmental factors like dry and windy conditions can also cause or worsen dry eye syndrome. Air conditioning, ceiling fans and forced air heating systems can increase indoor humidity and speed tear evaporation, leading to dry eye.
A number of lifestyle habits have also been linked to an increased risk of dry eye. Research shows that we tend to blink less when working in front of a computer or other digital device, which causes our eyes to dry out. Smoking, which is linked to an increased risk of serious eye conditions like macular degeneration and cataracts, can also lead to dry eye.
How Do I Find Out if I Have Dry Eye Syndrome?
Only an eye doctor can determine if you have dry eye disease and help prescribe a dry eye treatment plan for you.
At Wiles Eye Center, an accredited dry eye center, your doctor will ask a series of questions to determine your risk level for dry eye disease. In order to definitively diagnose your disease, the doctor may perform a TearLab® Osmolarity Test.
Often, dry eye symptoms are not dry eye at all but rather signs of an underlying eye condition. The TearLab® Osmolarity Test will help the doctor determine if dry eye is your problem or if there is something else going on.
The TearLab® Osmolarity Test takes a tiny tear sample from each eye and generates your osmolarity number in seconds. It’s quick and painless and gives your doctor a meaningful measure of the health and stability of your tear film.
Dry Eye Treatment Options
The right treatment option for dry eye will depend on the patient’s specific symptoms, severity and cause. For mild cases, simple lifestyle or environmental changes can help. Blinking more frequently, especially when using a computer or other digital device, can keep the eyes moisturized and comfortable. Using a humidifier can keep the air comfortable indoors while taking omega-3 supplements can decrease dry eye symptoms. If you experience dry eye symptoms when wearing contact lenses, we may recommend that you discontinue wearing them or switch to daily disposal contact lenses. If these lifestyle and environmental changes do not alleviate symptoms, over-the-counter dry eye can help stimulate tear production.
For more severe cases of dry eye, additional treatment options may need to be considered including prescription eye drops (e.g., Restasis or Xiidra) and antibiotics. For tear drainage issues, our team can plug the tear ducts to help your eyes get the proper lubrication they need. Intense pulsed light therapy is another treatment option that works to slow down the evaporation of tears.
If you experience dry eye as a result of clogged or inflamed eyelid glands, our team will likely recommend one of several at-home techniques or an in-office procedure to treat the inflammation.
Customized Dry Eye Care with Wiles Eye Center
At Wiles Eye Center, our team of eye doctors are experienced in using the latest and most advanced diagnostic and treatment tools for dry eye. We will work diligently to determine the root of your problem and work with you to create a custom treatment plan to remedy it.
To learn more about dry eye and the treatment options we offer, schedule a one-on-one consultation with Wiles Eye Center. Contact our Kansas City location at 816-455-2020 or our St. Joseph location at 816-279-7015. A member of our friendly team will gladly speak with you to discuss your eye and vision needs.