Dry Eye Disease is a chronic condition that can require many different management approaches in order to find a successful treatment. Most of the time, the first treatment option for this condition is frequently using lubricating artificial tears. Unfortunately, this is not always enough to improve symptoms. Do you have a difficult case of Dry Eye Disease that is impacting your day-to-day life? Continue reading to learn more about additional treatment options beyond artificial tears.
Over-the-counter artificial tears aren’t the only option for eye drops when it comes to treating the symptoms of Dry Eye Disease. There are some eye drops that are available only by prescription that can be very useful in targeting the root cause of the condition and preventing symptoms from occurring. Two such examples are Restasis and Xiidra, prescription eye drops that fight the underlying inflammation that has been proven to be a significant cause of Dry Eye Disease. Both of these drops target and inhibit highly specific inflammatory processes that occur on the surface of the eye, making it easier for the eye to make its own tears. Unlike artificial tears, which may require many doses throughout the day, Restasis and Xiidra only require two doses a day to be effective. However, due to their function of inhibiting inflammatory processes, it can take up to 3 months for them to become fully effective in lessening symptoms of Dry Eye Disease. Another prescription-only option is topical steroid eye drops, which also work to prevent ocular surface inflammation that can cause or worsen symptoms of dryness and irritation. Your optometrist can evaluate your specific type of Dry Eye Disease to determine if prescription eye drops are an appropriate treatment option.
One form of Dry Eye Disease, known as aqueous deficiency, is caused by an insufficient production of tears. For the people suffering from this type of Dry Eye Disease, there is a potential treatment option known as punctal plugs. These medical devices are very small biocompatible collagen implants that are inserted into the tear drain, retaining the eye’s natural tears on the front surface of the eye for a longer time and keeping the corneal surface more lubricated and nourished. Some punctal plugs are temporary, remaining in the tear duct for weeks to months before they safely disintegrate, while other punctal plugs are permanent in nature and can last for years at a time. These devices are inserted by a trained optometrist in office, and the quick procedure is safe and painless. This treatment option is oftentimes covered by insurance and has proven to be a convenient alternative in the treatment of Dry Eye Disease.
If Meibomian gland dysfunction is the main culprit causing symptoms of Dry Eye Disease, there can be several approaches to improving the health of the glands and reducing the symptoms of dryness and irritation. Warm compresses are effective in unclogging dysfunctional mebomian glands and promoting a stable tear film; there are even commercial options such as the Brüder Mask that make warm compresses easier and more efficient. Sometimes Meibomian gland expression can be done in office, either by your optometrist or by a special medical device.