Dry Eyes is a chronic eye condition that can be very debilitating. The symptoms of dry eyes are tearing, the sensation of sandy, gritty eyes, sharp stabbing pain in the eye, sensitivity to light, burning, stinging eyes, and difficulty wearing contact lenses. The causes of dry eyes are a declining quantity of tears or poor quality of tears. If left untreated dry eyes can damage the surface of the eye and cause blurry vision. Hormonal changes associated with aging and menopause, autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, Sjogren’s syndrome and diabetes, medications (prescription and over the counter), such as antihistamines can all cause dry eyes. Various environmental factors exacerbate dry eyes such as ceiling fans, windy conditions, and low humidity.
During your eye exam, Dr. Schneider will determine whether you suffer from chronic dry eyes.
There are various ways to treat dry eyes. Preservative-free artificial tears are the first line of defense as preservatives are a contributing factor of dry eyes. Artificial tears may provide temporary symptomatic relief, but many patients will require a medication called Restasis.
Restasis is a prescription medication that increases the production of your own tears and thus decreases significantly the symptoms of dry eyes. One drop of Restasis is used twice a day. You will benefit from increased tear production as long as you are using Restasis. Restasis requires 90 days to reach its full potential. You will notice an improvement in your symptoms of dry eyes in a few weeks after starting Restasis but the full effect is not seen for 90 days. The most common side effect of Restasis is a burning sensation that one out of five patients experiences. This burning dissipates with time in the majority of patients.
Alternative prescription medications are:
- Cequa: used twice a day increases tear production
- Xiidra: treats both the signs and symptoms of dry eye, specifically inflammation
- Klarity – C: a more cost-effective prescription for dry eye symptoms
An additional treatment option for dry eyes is a tear duct Punctal Plugs. These are tiny silicone plugs that block the drainage of your tears and thus allows your tears to stay on the eye surface longer. This is an office procedure that is quick and painless.
A combination of these therapies is usually required for those who suffer from dry eyes and Dr. Schneider will customize a regimen specifically for you.