November 4, 2015
Dry eye is a condition in which there are insufficient tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears or have a poor quality of tears. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults. At Hendrix Vision of Philadelphia, we provide comprehensive eye care for the whole family, and we can help you manage your dry eye condition if you have one.
We are a locally owned and operated business, in Philadelphia, PA, with the friendly, attentive service that makes a visit to the eye doctor a pleasant and comfortable experience. We offer convenient business hours, and our ophthalmologist treats the full range of eye conditions and diseases. If you require dry eye treatment, our doctor will ensure that you receive the proper specialized care.
With every blink of your eye, tears are spread across the front surface of the eye, known as the cornea. Tears provide lubrication, reduce the risk of eye infection, wash away foreign matter in the eye, and keep the surface of the eyes smooth and clear. It’s important to keep this tear production healthy, because dry eyes can cause discomfort. Dry eyes can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination in our office. Testing, with special emphasis on the evaluation of the quantity and quality of tears produced by the eyes, may include: patient history to determine any symptoms the patient is experiencing and the presence of any general health problems, medications taken, or environmental factors that may be contributing to the dry eye problem.
In addition, we will perform an external examination of the eye, including lid structure and blink dynamics, evaluation of the eyelids and cornea using bright light and magnification, and measurement of the quantity and quality of tears for any abnormalities. Special dyes may be instilled in the eyes to better observe tear flow and to highlight any changes to the outer surface of the eye caused by insufficient tears.
One of the primary approaches used to manage and treat mild cases of dry eyes is adding tears using over-the-counter artificial tear solutions. Dry eyes can be a chronic condition, but our ophthalmologist can prescribe treatment to keep your eyes healthy, and to prevent your vision from being affected. These tears can be used as often as needed to supplement natural tear production. Preservative-free artificial tear solutions are recommended because they contain fewer additives that could further irritate the eyes. However, some people may have persistent dry eyes that don’t respond to artificial tears alone. Additional steps need to be taken to treat their dry eyes.
Another approach to reducing the symptoms of dry eyes is to keep natural tears in the eyes longer. This can be done by blocking the tear ducts through which the tears normally drain. The tear ducts can be blocked with tiny silicone or gel-like plugs that can be removed, if needed. A surgical procedure to permanently close tear ducts can also be used. In either case, the goal is to keep the available tears in the eye longer to reduce problems related to dry eyes. Prescription eye drops that help to increase production of tears might be recommended, as well, in addition to omega-3 fatty acid nutritional supplements. Prescription eye drops or ointments, warm compresses and lid massage, or eyelid cleaners may be recommended to help decrease inflammation around the surface of the eyes.