Dry Eye is a term used to describe a group of different diseases and conditions that result from inadequate wetting and lubrication of the eye. Dry Eye Syndrome is the most common of all eye disorders, affecting approximately 20% of the population. Currently there is no cure for dry eye, however there are many treatments available.
Although millions of people experience dry eye, it is not always easy to diagnose. Dry eye can easily be mistaken for other conditions, such as infections or allergies.
Symptoms of Dry Eye:
There are a number of different symptoms of dry eye, aside from the eye experiencing dry eye. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- A stinging, burning sensation in your eyes
- A sense of a foreign substance in your eyes
- Stingy mucus in or around eyes
- Increased eye irritation from smoke or wind
- Eye fatigue after short periods of reading
- Sensitivity to light
- Difficulty wearing contact lenses
- Blurred vision, often worsening at the end of the day
Dry Eye Causes
Dry eye can be caused by a number of different reasons. Below are some of the leading causes of dry eye:
- Aging – 75% of individual over 65 suffer from dry eye
- Contact lens wear – dry eye is the leading cause of contact lens intolerance
- Hormonal changes in women – such as pregnancy, oral contraceptives, and menopause
- Environmental factors – smoke, air pollution, sun, wind, cold and dry air
- Side effects of diseases and medications – such as antihistamines and birth control pills
- Laser vision correction procedure – temporary induces dry eye
- Excessive tearing caused by crying
- Computer use
Dry Eye Treatments in Los Angeles
- Lubricating Eye Drops (Artificial Tears)
- Punctal Occlusion
Dr. Arthur Benjamin is considered to be a leading authority on dry eyes in Los Angeles. He has several years of experience and training in treating Los Angeles dry eyes patients and helping them overcome this discomforting condition. Dr. Arthur Benjamin also has expertise in a wide range of ophthalmologic procedures, including glaucoma treatments, laser cataract surgery, traditional cataract surgery and LASIK in Los Angeles.
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Dry Eye and Allergies
The body reacts to certain allergens that it feels are harmful to it. For example while dust may not affect you it may affect someone else triggering an allergic response. This response may be in the form of itchy, red or watery eyes. Sometimes stronger reactions to allergies can be in the form of swollen, red eyelids.
Most eyes react to airborne allergens in the air from dust, smog, pet dander, or pollen to name a few. Sometimes makeup or antibiotic eye drops may also cause an allergic reaction.
It is important to note that dry eyes can exacerbate allergies. The eye normally increases its production of tears in order to wash away what is affecting. Ironically enough, excessive tearing is a major symptom of dry eye. If there is not enough tears to wash away the allergens, the eye will be even more irritated.
Lubricating drops are often recommended to help add extra moisture to the eye. If moisture drops are not enough, Dr. Benjamin may suggest punctal occlusion help increase the amount of tears that remain in the eye.
To alleviate these symptoms it is best to avoid what seems to encourage these reactions. Failing that, eye drops such as Optivar or Patanol can help alleviate itching and redness. Dry eye therapy such as Restasis an also help, however these eye drops are by prescription only.
Antihistamines such as Claritin or Benadryl are helpful as well as over the counter decongestants. Overuse of decongestants can create dependence so they should be used sparingly.
Punctal Plug Procedure
If you’ve used drops or ointments in the past and haven’t gotten relief from your dry eye condition, Dr. Benjamin may want to occlude (block) your puncta. Puncta are the drainage ducts that your old tears, or extra tears, can escape through while your glands are making new ones. In each of your eyes, there is one punctum in the top eyelid and another on the bottom eyelid, at the corner of the eye that is towards your nose. About 80% of the tears drain from the lower, 20% from the upper puncta.
Punctal plugs do exactly what they sound like: they stop the drains, just like the plug in your kitchen sink. Punctal plugs are made of very soft flexible silicone, similar to that used in contact lenses.
The procedure is quick and painless and can be done within 5 minutes in our office. A small plug will be placed in the puncta of each eye to stop the puncta from draining away tears and help keep the surface of your eye moist and lubricated.
Usually temporary collagen plugs are inserted first to make sure you are a good candidate for permanent silicone plugs. Collagen plugs dissolve on their own, usually within 7-10 days of insertion. Once these plugs have dissolved and it is determined that tear film has increased, permanent silicone plugs are then inserted.
Some patients will experience tear overflow (epiphora) with punctal plugs. Collagen plugs will not prove whether silicone plugs will help, but they can help rule out patients who will have overflow or who simply are very unlikely to benefit.
Read more about other eye conditions treated at Benjamin Eye Institute, such as presbyopia. Call today and schedule an appointment with Dr. Benjamin to get relief from your dry eye. Contact our office at 310.507.7988.