The symptoms of dry eye disease typically include irritation, redness, burning, grittiness, watering, or itching. These symptoms can be burdensome, and many people find that dry eye disease negatively impacts their daily life. Treatment for dry eyes is usually a long-term approach that focuses on adequately and efficiently reducing symptoms and reducing the burden of ocular irritation. If you suffer from dry eye disease, your optometrist will have the best recommendation regarding what treatment options are best for you. Below are some of the common treatment approaches for this disease.
Treating Dry Eyes with Artificial Tears
Lubricating artificial tears are oftentimes the first option for treating dry eye disease. These are usually over-the-counter eye drops that are specially formulated to nourish and protect the ocular surface, reducing symptoms of dryness and discomfort. There are many options of artificial tears, designed to target different forms of dry eye disease. Some lipid-based tears are specifically created to be used in cases of Meibomian gland dysfunction, where the tear film is not getting enough of the oils it needs. Other artificial tears come in a consistency that is more like a gel, which is great for those individuals who suffer from nighttime dryness and need a thicker drop to help protect the ocular surface overnight. Preservative-free artificial tears are a wonderful option for nearly any form of dry eye disease – by leaving out preservatives or any other component that may irritate the ocular surface, these high-quality eye drops are highly effective in protecting and healing the cornea and decreasing symptoms of dry eye disease.
Addressing the Eyelids and Eyelashes
Lid hygiene is an important aspect of promoting a healthy tear film and reducing symptoms of dry eye disease. By adding simple steps, such as lid scrubs or warm compresses, to your daily routine, you may find that your eyes are much more comfortable. Lid scrubs involve thoroughly washing the eyelid margins and eyelashes each evening with warm water and a gentle soap, or by using a specially designed lid wipe that can be purchased over-the-counter. This removes debris, dust, and makeup from around the eyes and promotes a healthier ocular surface. Warm compresses are performed by holding a warm washcloth or a specially designed eye-mask over the eyelids for 10 to 15 minutes. This prevents any of the natural oils around the eyes from clogging. Both of these simple steps are easy treatment options for dry eye disease that can make a big impact on ocular comfort.
Treating Dry Eye Disease with Prescription Eye Drops
In cases of moderate to severe dry eye disease, medicated eye drops may need to be used. Prescription drops such as Restasis or Xiidra are long-term treatment options that treat dry eye disease by reducing inflammation on the front of the eye. If you are considering these eyedrops as a treatment option, there are a few important things to know. First, because of how these drops reduce inflammation, they usually take up to 3 months to begin fully working. Secondly, they are pricier than traditional treatment options like artificial tears. That being said, many people experience great results using these medications and report significant improvement in their symptoms.
These are only a few of the many treatment options for dry eye disease. If you suffer from symptoms of dryness and irritation, ask your optometrist which treatment option is best for you!