Dry Eye Treatments

Rub-Eyes-(1).jpgIt is estimated that by 2015, the global population affected by dry eye will reach one billion. While it is not a  frequent cause of blindness, it is one of the leading reasons why patients seek eye care. Symptoms of dry eye can have a devastating impact on one’s quality of life including reduced work capacity and ability to perform activities such as reading and can even impact mental health. 

 While the Foundation's focus is the advancement of  cornea transplant techniques, we also investigate much more, including ways to treat dry eye syndrome. We’ve seen firsthand how debilitating this condition can be and have participated in many studies to approve new medications and treatments for this common problem.

We gained a new appreciation for just how common dry eyes occur, even in younger adults, when we conducted a large-scale survey to evaluate patient satisfaction with different types of vision correction. We were surprised to find that one out of four contact lens wearers between the ages of 18 and 60 years old reported that dry eyes limited their contact lens wearing time. Furthermore, about 15% of contact lens wearers and a similar percentage of those who had LASIK in the last year reported that they experienced feelings of dry eyes anywhere from half of the time to all the time. 
Tears are a critical part of eye health and are made of three layers: oil, water and mucous. The layers consist of proteins, electrolytes and vitamins that are critical to maintain the health of the cornea and to prevent infection from various dust and debris. Any factor that alters the chemistry of the tears can make them unhealthy resulting in irritating dry eye.
We personalize the treatment plan depending upon the source of the problem. First line treatments for dry eye symptoms include using artificial tears and avoiding contact lenses. 
Problems specifically associated with the oil layer can be treated by taking vitamins that contain omega-3 fatty acids, avoiding eye makeup, using warm compresses on the eyelids to open up blocked oil glands, and cleansing the eyelids regularly. Sometimes, a small insect called Demodex has taken up residence in the eyelash hair follicles and we can apply treatments to eradicate it. If the eyes are drying out because the eyelids don’t close properly, we can often correct that with eyelid surgery. To prevent tears from draining away so quickly, we can plug the tear ducts. We can also provide goggles that create a moisture chamber around the eyes. In addition, we have prescription eye drops that help reduce inflammation and alleviate dry eye symptoms. 
Despite the available treatment options, many people still suffer from dry eye symptoms. So we continue to seek better cures and are excited to be collaborating on innovative approaches that hold great promise.
If you suffer from dry eyes or know someone who does and would like to find out how you can participate in our clinical studies with new treatments, please contact Clorissa via email or call 317-814-2996.