Among the most common and most annoying eye conditions is dry eyes. For some people, having dry eyes is an inconvenient nuisance, for others, it can be debilitating.
Because of where we live in Southern Alberta, the vast majority of our population has some form of dry eyes. Unfortunately, most people try to manage their dry eye disease with things that they have heard work with others, such as over-the-counter dry eye drops, hoping to get the same results. Additionally, the marketing world has also recognized the prevalence of dry eye disease, so they are captivating audiences with commercials and advertising that is designed to entice and convince the average consumer that their dry eye problems can be solved with one simple product. Gratefully, sometimes those advertised products indeed work, but many times they do not.
The truth is, not all dry eye disease is the same. As such, each person’s dry eye disease needs to be assessed by an optometrist, who will be able to determine the type of dry eye disease, and can create a management strategy catered to that person’s specific needs.
This topic is an ever-changing field of research, and classifications of types and subtypes of dry eyes change about every decade. The complexity of dry eye is so immense that, believe it or not, it is hard for even experts to come to an agreement on what types and subtypes of dry eye exist. If you really want a true idea of just how complex things are, and if you want your head to spin a bit, you can take a look at the diagrams and descriptions that have been published by these major research groups in recent years: DEWS II, ADES.
In short, there are so many types and subtypes of dry eyes that it is nearly impossible for us to try to simplify things in a short paragraph like this. Just know that if you have dry eye symptoms, the type and cause of your dry eyes may be extremely different from the type and cause of your friend, neighbour, family member, or coworker.
It is important to have your dry eye looked at by one of our optometrists, who will be able to adequately determine the reasons behind your dry eye.
There are almost too many things to list here, but here are a few:
Of course, most people have more than one cause for their dry eye, so things can get quite complicated sometimes. It’s rarely just one thing for people.
Punctual plugs can be used to block the natural drainage of your tears. Believe it or not, we swallow our tears all day through tiny openings called puncta. These holes can be blocked with punctual plugs that are sized specifically for you, and that are designed to retain the tears that you naturally produce on your ocular surface for longer.
Scleral contact lenses are specialty contact lenses that can sometimes be used to treat dry eyes. The reason these particular types of contact lenses help is because they permanently trap a layer of tears between the lens and the cornea to provide constant moisture to the eye throughout the day, no matter how dry the environment may be.
Intense Pulse Light (IPL) is offered at our clinic. As with all previously listed treatments, this does not help with all types of dry eye, but it is especially helpful for dry eyes that are suffering due to deficiencies with special oils that are produced on our eyelids by glands called meibomian glands.