So you know you have dry eye disease and may well already have found yourself a dry eye specialist .
You are also aware that this is a condition which is managed rather than cured but, with all the myriad of treatments, you don’t know where to start. Basically, there are 2 main areas; those things you can do at home and those that are done at the doctor’s office. You will not need to do all of these but, with the help of your eye care professional, should be able to come up with a combination that works for you.
Lubricating eye drops.
Use of artificial tears is the mainstay of most dry eye disease treatment and maintenance. Often the need for them can be reduced if not eliminated with other treatments such as IPL.
There is more and more evidence that poor blinking habits can actually be one of the causes of dry eyes. This would explain why younger people who spend a lot of time staring at a computer screen are now being diagnosed with dry eye disease. There are dry eye specialists who say that unless you do blinking exercises then any other therapies are a waste of time! Click here for more info on blinking exercises
Dry eye supplements
Omega 3 supplements have been shown to help with symptoms of dry eye. Making sure you have enough omega 3 in your diet can make a big difference to the quality of your tears. Click here for more information.
Warm compresses are especially useful for those people with dry eyes who have meibomian gland dysfunction.
Cleansing of eyelids is essential. It can be done at home or as maintenance following in-office procedures such as Blephex.
Keeping hydrated can be an important factor in treating dry eyes. You need to drink about 1-2 litres of water a day. You don’t need me to tell you that that does not include coffee, tea, alcohol or soft drinks!
Night shields and goggles
Use of shields or moisture chamber goggles can make a big difference in cases of moderate to severe dry eyes.
A moist environment is friendlier to eyes than a dry one. Avoid being in the direct line of fans or air-conditioners, and use a humidifier if the environment is particularly dry.
At the doctor’s office
Meibomian gland expression
Expressing the glands along the lid margin is done initially as a diagnosis and then as an on-going treatment regime that is essential if the diagnosis is meibomian gland dysfunction.
Cleansing of the lid margins and lashes is an on-going treatment similar to getting your scale and polish done at the dentist. It can be done every 6-12 months then maintained at home.
Intense pulsed light is a relatively recent treatment for dry eyes which works exceptionally well for the right candidates. We were the first to use this in West Australia and have been using it for over 2 years. We have treated more than 200 people many of whom have had life-changing outcomes.
A number of different types of medications can be used in the treatment of dry eyes such as steroids and antibiotics.
Plugging the drainage channels in the eye is an option where the dry eye is primarily a lack of the watery tears in the eye. It should only be done once all the inflammation in the eye has been treated.
Scleral contact lenses can work very well in cases of moderate to severe dry eyes and are used once other treatment options have been explored.