Dry eye disease has so many different symptoms. It can manifest as tired eyes, blurry vision, red/watery eyes; or you can even have no symptoms at all!!! The cornea gets used to the feeling, and your nerve endings down regulate. This is the hardest form to treat in my opinion.
So what causes dry eye? To better understand, let’s get down to the basics. The tears are made up of a few different layers, but the main players are an oil and a water layer. The vast majority of dry eye is caused by an oil deficiency.
Let’s focus on that for now.
The oil portion of the tears are made in the meibomian glands in the eyelids. These get clogged and cause dryness. The scary part is that once they die off, that is a permanent anatomy change and we can’t regrow them (as far as we know; fingers are crossed that we come up with a solution to the loss!). There is a big inflammation component to this clogging process.
So how do you fix it?
The basics: hot compresses for 5-10 minutes a couple of times a day with a reusable heat mask helps melt the obstruction and liquify the oil. Blinking is the pump for the oil glands, so blink exercises help move the oil out. When we look at screens, we blink dramatically less than we should. Its like our pumps are going out!
A high quality fish oil helps fill the glands back up with the right kind of (non-inflammed) stuff. I prefer my omegas to be manufactured in the triglyceride form (not ethyl ester). That’s quality. Then for quantity: I perfer EPA+DHA=2,000mg/day. Then, make sure to practice lid and lash hygiene. A good tea tree based cleaner helps get rid of a skin bug called demodex that contributes to this inflammatory cycle. My favorite is a brand called We Love Eyes. It is a two step process. I wash my hands, put a drop or two of oil on my finger, then rub it into the base of the lashes. Next, take the foam and rub it into your lashes over the oil. Rinse off after this step.
It is a full cycle: heat out the bad, fill up with the good, pump it out, and then wash it all away. If those steps don’t help in about 6-8 weeks, we have loads of next level therapies. Lipiflow evacuates the blockages, IPL eliminates the inflammation, and amniotic membranes help rebuild the cornea if it has been damaged.
There are so many more options than just artificial tears!!! Don’t live with dryness. Let us help determine which path is the best for your eyes.