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Treatment for Dry Eye

Dry eye is a chronic eye condition that results in discomfort, blurred vision, and pain. The good news is that there are a multitude of dry eye treatments, but they do not work for everyone. Patients that do not make enough tears have several options. I generally start with artificial tear replacement and environmental modification. This would include reducing the use of ceiling fans, using humidifiers, and changing some behaviors. This goes along with occasional artificial tear use. Artificial tears tend to work best when there are situations that result in dry eyes such as reading or watching TV. The effected individual can place the tears before that circumstance. I often like thicker artificial tears such as systane ultra and refresh liquigel because they last longer. However, they can often cause the vision to blur for a short period after installation. For mild dry eye, fish oil can also be used. It can take a month or two to show an effect. If the dry eye is moderate, additional treatments are usually indicated. Punctal or canalicular plugs block the drain of the eye. Typically tears are produced in the lacrimal glands and they drain out through the punctum and canaliculus. I will block these drains with either permanent or semi-permanent plugs. This causes the tears to build up and the eye to become more moist. This can be a highly effective form of treatment, but is not perfect. There are some small risks with the plugs that you can discuss with your ophthalmologist or eye doctor. Other options include anti-inflammatory drops such as Restasis and Xiidra. They work to decrease the inflammation on the surface of the eye which may help to increase tear production over a period of time. These drops do work for some people, but they usually need to be used every day indefinitely. If these measures do not work, more treatments can be applied. They tend not to work as well, or have added steps to comply with the treatment. These options include bandage contact lenses and autologous serum tears. The area that gets dry on the eye is extremely sensitive with over 7000 pain nerves per square millimeter. The bandage lens helps to protect that area from the eyelid, and helps to keep an area of moisture over that area. It can often work for the most severe cases. Autologous serum tears are the closest thing we have to natural human tears. They are made from the plasma of the patient's blood. They are kept in the freezer and frequently instilled and sometimes they work for very severe cases. There are multiple other treatments for dry eye also. If you have dry eye and would like an evaluation for these treatment options, please call 512-686-1224 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Aaker at Reveal Eye Care & Surgery in Georgetown, Texas.

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