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When Tears Don’t Flow: How To Deal With Dry Eye Syndrome

Dr. Imran Akram

2 min read

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This common eye disorder occurs when the eye does not produce enough tears or the tears are of poor quality, resulting in loss of lubrication which causes blurred vision and exposes the eyes to various infections. Being a chronic condition, Dry Eye Syndrome cannot be entirely cured, in most cases. However, the following treatments and measures can ensure that daily tasks are not disrupted:

1- Artificial Tears:

The primary treatment for mild to moderately dry eyes, these lubricants are of 2 types: Low Viscosity (thickness) and High Viscosity. Where the less viscous types provide instant results and cause little to no vision blurring during application with frequent use, high viscosity tears last for longer periods of time, but cause blurred vision for several minutes and have a gel-like consistency. Hence, they should be used before bed for overnight action. Take care when selecting what artificial tears you are purchasing.

2- Anti-Inflammatory Treatments:

The following medication can reduce and control inflammation; the primary cause of eye irritation and burning, that are characteristic of dry eye syndrome. Note that it is incredibly important to consult a professional before you begin regularly taking any kind of medication, especially if you are already on medication of some kind or have some other illnesses:

  • Corticosteroids:

Available in both eye drop and ointment forms, these steroids are commonly used as a short-term treatment in severe cases alongside artificial tears to manage inflammation. Side-effects of this treatment include cataracts and increased eye pressure, which occur if corticosteroids are used for the long-term.

  • Oral Tetracycline:

Using these pills in low doses for 3-4 months or more, if required, can help reduce inflammation. Doxycycline is most commonly prescribed for treatment, although oxytetracycline and lymecycline can also be prescribed.

  • Cyclosporin:

When patients do not respond to other lubricants in severe cases, cyclosporin drops are used to suppress the activity of the immune system and stimulate natural tear production. However, some users may experience burning sensations during the first few weeks of use.

3- Punctal Plugs:

The 4 tear-draining ducts in the upper and lower eyelids are blocked by surgically placing small plugs over the ducts to relieve dry eye symptoms by stopping the tears from draining and retain them in the eye. 1 or all ducts can be blocked according to the severity of the condition. However, a plug may be removed if blockage causes eye ‘watering’.

4- Lubricating Inserts:

A rod-shaped, preservative-free lubricant is placed behind the lower eyelid, where it slowly dissolves throughout the day, providing long-term moisture in moderate to severe dry eyes. Commonly applied once a day, they also relieve burning, foreign body sensations, blurred vision, light sensitivity and itching in the eye. However, if placed incorrectly, they can cause blurred vision, irritation, sticky eyelashes and even, corneal abrasion (scratches on the eye surface).

5- Meibomian Eye Expression:

This medical procedure is used to unclog the Meibomian (oil) glands at the base of the eyelashes, that secrete oil into the eye and keep tears from evaporating; making it a major cause of dry eye syndrome. Using a forceps-like device, the lower lid is firmly pressed down to squeeze hardened oil and other clogging substances out of the eye and restore normal Meibomian gland function. While uncomfortable, the long-term results are worth it.

6- Other Measures:

The following practices must be performed regularly in conjunction with prescribed medication to ensure long-term relief:

  • Eat Omega-3:

Salmon, walnuts and palm and soybean oils, are rich sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which increase tear production and decrease dry eye symptoms. Alternatively, Omega-3 supplements can also be used.

  • Blink Often:

Regular full blinks (gentle squeezing of the eyelids which adds a fresh layer of tears), particularly when using electronic devices, alleviate dry eye symptoms. You should also rest your eyes by looking away from the screen every 20 minutes at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.

  • Wear Wraparound Sunglasses:

They shield the eyes from wind and dust that that dry up the eyes and block UV rays completely, making sure your eyes dry much slower than before.

  • Clean Your Eyes:

Remove all eye makeup and gently scrub the lids and lashes with diluted baby shampoo after applying a warm, moist cloth on closed eyelids for 1-2 minutes before bed to clear harmful bacteria avoid Meibomian gland blockage.

Permanently sealing the tear ducts or transplanting lip saliva glands to the eyes via surgery can be employed if all of these treatments prove to be ineffective. Do not use any of the above medication without consulting your doctor. Book an Appointment with a top Ophthalmologist in Islamabad, Lahore and Multan through oladoc.com. Or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your eye-related issues.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr. Imran Akram - Author Dr. Imran Akram Sahaf is an Eye Surgeon practicing in Lahore. Dr. Imran Akram Sahaf has the following degrees: MBBS, MCPS (Ophthalmology), MRCP and has 41 years of experience. You can book an appointment with Dr. Imran Akram Sahaf by calling us or using the 'book appointment' button. He loves to write on healthcare to raise awareness about general healthcare issues in Pakistan and advise patients on healthy living. If you wish to read his healthcare articles and advice, please visit the following links:
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