Dry Eye and Eyelid Care
Artificial Tears: What You Need to Know
In a time where the average age of the population continues to increase and digital device use reaches an all-time high every time a new survey is published, the incidence of dry eye disease continues to increase. The first-line treatment for dry eye disease has always been supplementation of the body’s natural tear production with artificial tear drops. As a patient, you may find yourself in awe as you look over the incredible variety of artificial tear products available the next time you visit your favorite one-stop shopping center. Here are some things to remember that can help you find what you really need:
1. If you’re going to be using your artificial tear drops more than three times per day, be sure you’re selecting a preservative free artificial tear. Preservative free drops will come packaged in single-dose vials stacked inside of boxes. If your drop is in a bottle, it is NOT preservative free. Excess dosing of harsh preservatives (such as benzalkonium chloride or “BAK”) can actually do harm to the ocular surface, in spite of your good intentions.
2. If you’re using a drop for allergies, it may help with your redness and itching, but it may also make your eyes dryer! If you’re using an allergy drop and you find that your redness and itching have improved, but some residual burning remains, these are signs of dry eye. Be sure to use an artificial tear drop regularly if you find that you have some residual dry eye symptoms while using your allergy drops.
3. Not all artificial tear drops are the same, and there are drops that will work better for specific types of dry eye than others. There are going to be four major types of artificial tears: aqueous tears, lipid-based tears, gels, and ointments. Aqueous tears are watery and best for mild forms of aqueous deficient dry eye. Lipid-based tears will be a little milky or chalky colored and benefit patients with Meibomian gland dysfunction more than others. Gel tears are going to be thicker and better for patients with moderate or severe forms of dry eye. Ointments are going to be thick enough to blur your vision significantly and are best used just before bedtime to keep the eyes heavily moisturized overnight.
Omega 3 Supplements and Dry Eye
How do Omega 3 supplements help my dry eye?
A quick online search for information about Omega 3 supplementation and dry eyes can leave even the savviest researcher a bit perplexed. There seems to be an equal wealth of information supporting Omega 3 supplementation and denying it. The trick is going to be using Omega 3 Supplementation when it’s going to be effective. For patients with Meibomian gland deficiency, Omega 3 supplementation can be a great tool for combating this chronic condition. For patients with severe aqueous deficient dry eye, or patients who have developed Meibomian gland atrophy, Omega 3 supplementation will not be an effective treatment. Be sure to talk to you eye-care provider about which supplements are right for you.
Heat Masks and Dry Eye
How will a heat mask help improve my dry eye?
Your heat mask will help the most when you have mild Meibomian gland deficiency, or moderate to severe Meibomian gland deficiency that has been treated in office. These masks stay at the appropriate temperature much longer than a normal heating pack or hot cloth, and will ensure that you get the full 10 minutes of adequate heating necessary to liquefy the Meibomian gland contents and promote adequate flow from the glands.