First of all the term “Dry Eye” or the newer term “Ocular Surface Disease” are terrible names for the discomfort some people feel around the front of their eyes. It seems that most people think their eyes just take care of themselves, however the truth is that for the best comfort, vision and (let’s face it) the best looking eyes, they require some basic care. Just like you have been told for decades that your teeth require daily brushing and flossing and visits to the dentist every 6 months for scaling, polishing etc, your eyes benefit from care at home and regular visits to the optometrist.
Ok, so here is the simplified (I hope) version of good care for the lids/lashes and front of the eyes for the best comfort and vision and the whitest, clearest eyes.
Cleaning lids and lashes and lubricating eyes
- Even lids that aren’t red, swollen and crusty (sometimes with styes or chalazion) need daily cleaning. People removing eye makeup daily are sometimes in better shape here but not always. There are lid wipes (with or without Tea Tree Oil-TTO-to kill inflammatory bacteria), foam lid cleansers (Blephadex, Theralid also with TTO) and even the newer antimicrobial Hypochlorous spray BIHOL will make lids look and feel better. Whiter eyes and lids that are less red/swollen sounds better doesn’t it? And fewer styes? Clean those lids and lashes daily!
- Lubricating eyes that feel dry, irritated, itchy or burning also makes sense doesn’t it? “But my eyes aren’t dry, they are watery” you say? Well they are watering because they are so dry that they have called in the “crying/onion-cutting tears” to moisturize themselves! Dry eyes can also cause intermittent blur, especially early or late in the day and with excessive screen use. But daily use of artificial tears, either preserved (like the Systane or Refresh you will find at the drugstore) or better yet, the extra gentle preservative free products at Pierce Family Vision like Hyabak, Idrop or Hylo at least twice per day but as often as you need them will help.
When daily cleaning of lids and lubrication of eyes isn’t enough, what next?
- Heating lids with a Bruder mask for at least 15 minutes each day to melt the oil producing Meibomian glands in the lids, which give the tears their oily top layer, prevents the evaporation of your tears
- Omega 3 supplements to help those Meibomian glands
- Big squeezy blinks, especially right after removing the Bruder heat mask, to encourage the flow of oil out of those glands
- Humidifiers to increase the humidity in the air at work and at home, especially during our cold dry Canadian winters
OK, so you’re doing all those things regularly and your eyes still aren’t happy?
- Sometimes prescription medications such as Restasis or Xiidra or mild topical steroid drops or even oral antibiotics are required. At Pierce Family Vision our optometrists prefer non-medicated treatments but there are times when prescription medications (used judiciously) are required
The high tech future of “Dry Eye”?
At Pierce Family Vision our optometrists are evaluating all kinds of new technology such as IPL or Intense Pulsed Light, LLLT or Photobiomodulation Therapy, RF or Radiofrequency Treatments, to see which technology would be most beneficial for our patients. These treatments can cost in the thousands of dollars however so we want to be sure of their efficacy before we bring them to our patients. We are happy to refer to other clinics for these treatments while we are deciding the future direction of dry eye treatment at our clinic.