There are many options for dry eye treatments. Dry eye disease has many levels and causes that not one treatment is for everyone, but your optometrist will be able to evaluate your eyes and discuss with you the best options for your dry eyes. Listed below are some of the common treatment options to consider when talking to your optometrist about dry eyes.
Most mild dry eye issues can be resolved with over-the-counter artificial tears. Starting out using the artificial tears twice a day is a great place to start treating your dry eyes. The hard part is knowing which eyedrop to use! Not all eye drops were made equally, however here’s a list of eyedrops that are most recommended by optometrists:
Majority of dry eye disease is related to an issue with your meibomian glands, which houses the lipid layer of your tear film. The lipid layer prevents your tears from evaporating too fast, so it’s very important! Unfortunately, the oily lipid layer can sometimes become more solidified, like butter, and will block your meibomian glands, leading to Meibomian Gland Dystrophy. The purpose of warm compresses is to “melt the butter” back into the oily lipid layer and help unclog your meibomian glands.
Instructions on how to use a warm compress:
- Rinse face of any debris and make up
- Heat warm compress* in microwave – make sure it’s warm to the touch but not scalding hot
- Lay down in a comfortable position and lay mask across closed eyes for 10 minutes
- Remove mask and use your fingers to do digital massage – rub fingers in circles on your upper and lower eyelid to encourage release of lipids from your meibomian glands
*it is not recommended to use a warm wet rag because it cannot hold the heat for the full 10 minutes
OptiLight Intense Pulse Light Therapy (IPL)
Originating from dermatology, IPL uses high intensity pulses of light to treat abnormal blood vessels associated with dry eye disease and stimulates collagen production, helping to reduce dry eyes. In most cases, 4 treatments will achieve target results, followed by maintenance treatments every 6-12 month.
Prescription Nasal Spray: Tyrvaya
A twice-daily nasal spray used to promote tear production by stimulating the parasympathetic pathway, resulting in enhanced basal tear film production. This results in improved tear film stability and decreased dry eye symptoms. This is also a great alternative for patients who are not able to do eyedrops.
Prescription eyedrops: Xiidra/Restasis/Cequea
Prescription eyedrops that are used to decrease the inflammatory causes of dry eyes. These eyedrops target the cause of dry eyes instead of just treating the symptoms.
iLux Thermal Pulsation
The iLux device targets meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD) using therapeutic, light-based heat to soften and release the oil in the blocked glands. The device is also used to gently compress the glands for full expression of the oils from the glands. In doing so, the low-quality oil stuck in your eyelids is completely removed and your body can create new, good quality oil to combat your dry eyes.
Our tears drain through our puncta, which is essentially a hole in our eyelids. We have 4 total, one on each upper and lower eyelid. Punctal plugs can be inserted into our puncta to help decrease the drainage of our tears. This method works well for dry eyes due to reduced tear production to help keep tears on our eyes for a longer period.
The use of amniotic membrane for healing purposes has been used in the medical field for decades. For our eyes, it promotes epithelial healing from damage caused by dry eyes to our eyes to help bring them back to baseline. It also encourages corneal nerve regeneration to help rebuild the feedback mechanism for our eyes to produce tears as needed for dry eyes. This is a non-surgical, non-invasive procedure to help with moderate to severe dry eyes.