Diagnosis and Treatment of Dry Eye


Diagnosis

In some cases, treating an underlying health issue can help clear up signs and symptoms of dry eyes. For instance, if a medication or environmental factor is causing your dry eyes. This is why it's important to visit your optician to determine the cause.

  • A comprehensive eye exam. An eye exam that includes complete history of your overall health and your eye health can help opticians diagnose the cause of your dry eyes.

  • Test to measure volume of tears. Your optician could measure your tear production using a 'Schirmer test' where blotting strips of paper are gently placed under your lower eyelid to measure the quantity of tears soaked up by the strips. Or they could measure your tear break up time (TBUT) by using a slit lamp and sodium flurescein to see how quickly your eye surface becomes dry.

  • Test the osmolarity of your tears. This test measures the composition of particles and water in your tears, if you are 'hyper-osmolar' this means your tears are not of high quality which could lead to inflammation and damage to the ocular surface.

  • Test for inflammatory markers. Testing for markers such as MMP-9 is especially helpful to identify if you have ocular surface inflammation or autoimmune disease which may be treated in a different way.


Treatment

Home remedies:

  • Non preservative eye drops. The drops act as artificial tears to provide fast relief from dry eye symptoms by lubricating and hydrating the eye surface.

  • Ointments. Lubricating eye ointments coat your eyes, providing longer lasting relief from dry eyes. These products are thicker than eyedrops and can cloud your vision, so these are best used just before bedtime or overnight.

  • Keeping eyelids clean. As with every other part of your body, maybe more so, your eyes need to be kept clean to avoid any buildup or debris. Using cleansers or sprays is the safest and most hygienic technique.

  • Fatty acids. Adding Omega-3 fatty acids to your diet may help relieve dry eye symptoms by nourishing, protecting and lubricating the eyes.

  • Warm compresses. Using a warm eye compress can soothe the eyes and provide almost instant relief, the moisture of the compress hydrated the eyes and also melts any buildup or clogging of the meibomian glands.

  • Environmental changes: take breaks from computer screens, use a humidifier to stop air getting dry and don't spend long in air conditioned or heated rooms.

From your optician:

  • Plugging the tear ducts. Tear ducts can be plugged with tiny, removable silicone plugs (punctal plugs) which can either partially or completely plug the tear ducts to prevent tear drainage.

  • Light Therapy and Eyelid massage. A technique called intense-pulsed light therapy uses painless pulses of light to release buildup of oils and unclog the meibomian glands. This can also be achieved by Massage.


Reference: Mayo Clinic

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