Dry Eye

What is Dry Eye?

Dry eye (also known as Dry Eye Disease or Dry Eye Syndrome) is a very common eye condition affecting people of all ages. People with dry eye either do not make enough (lubricating) tears or their tear film is of poor quality, causing the tears to dry up too quickly and the front of the eye to become dry and irritated.

The glands above your eyes make tears that cover the surface of your eye, often called the tear film. The tear film keeps your eyes wet and also has several other functions: it washes, protects, nourishes and lubricates the eye.

The normal tear film is made up of 3 layers:

1- Oily (lipid) layer

2- Watery (aqueous) layer

3- Sticky (mucous) layer

Any disturbance in the balance between the layers of the tear will cause it to break up quickly and cause dry eyes.

Symptoms

People with dry eyes may get a wide range of symptoms that may vary from mild to severe.

  • Feel your eyes are gritty or sore or uncomfortable.
  • Feel your eyes are itchy or burning
  • Blurred vision.
  • Feeling there is a foreign body in your eyes
  • Watery eyes (Dry eyes can be actually watery. This is because of poor quality of the tear film or imbalance of the tear film layers. Which will cause the eye glands to produce more tears to lubricate the eye, which continues the cycle).

The most common cause of watery eyes is dry eye!

Causes

Dry eye can be caused or aggravated by multiple factors including:

  • Ageing
  • Environmental conditions such as air conditioning in cars or offices
  • Increased computer work or mobile phones or tablets, leading to reduced blinking (often called Computer vision syndrome)
  • Contact lens wear
  • Hormonal changes
  • Poor diet
  • Dehydration
  • Previous eye surgeries such as LASIK surgery
  • Prolonged use of some medications as anti-histamines
  • Some medical conditions are associated with dry eyes as Sjögren’s Syndrome. Fortunately, this is rare.

Dry Eye Treatment

Dry eye tends to be a chronic condition, meaning that your symptoms may reoccur or worsen over time. Dry Eyes can have a significant impact on your quality of life, affecting daily activities such as reading or computer work or driving.

1-Lubricating drops 

The main treatment for dry eyes is lubricating drops. There are many types of lubricating drops or gels. Most of these drops can be bought over the counter. It is important to use the correct type of drops. The wrong drops are unlikely to cause any harm, but they won’t help as much.

Preservative-free drops are preferred for dry eyes as preservatives in the eye drops can themselves cause eye irritation or discomfort.

If your drops are not working or you are not sure which drops to use, you can ask Mr Ellabban for advice.

2-Regular eyelid hygiene

Eyelid care is recommended for all dry eyes patients as this will help to relieve the discomfort.

Some conditions such as Blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid) or Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) can make your dry eye symptoms worse. These conditions should be treated as well.

3-Punctal Plugs

Punctal plugs are tiny silicone or collagen cylinders (about 1-2 mm) that are inserted into the tear duct (called puncta) of the eyelid.  Puncta are the tiny openings that drain tears from your eyes down into the nasolacrimal duct.

The plug stops fluid from draining from the eye. So, the tears can remain on the eye surface for a longer period of time.  This can help to treat your dry eyes if you did not respond to lubricant drops.

Punctual plugs are indicated in certain types of dry eyes and have good results. There are 2 types of plugs:
A- Dissolvable or Temporary plugs. 
These are made of collagen material that gradually breaks down and is absorbed by the body. These plugs usually stay for a period of up to 2-3 months.
B- Non-dissolvable plugs: 
These are made of silicone material and can remain for a longer period. They can also be removed at any time at the eye clinic.

 

How are punctal plugs inserted?

The plugs are inserted at the eye clinic after putting some numbing drops. It is a very simple procedure and works well for selective cases of dry eyes. It is important to note that not everyone is a candidate for punctual plugs.

Collagen Punctal Plugs

Silicone Punctal Plugs

Are punctal plugs for you?

If you suffer from dry eyes and your symptoms did not respond to artificial tears, punctal plugs can be an option for you.

If you have any queries about punctal plugs, contact Mr Ellabban to assess you and advise if punctal plugs can help in your case.