Struggling with the discomfort of dry eyes in Perth? You’re not alone.
This common condition, often exacerbated by factors like extensive computer screen use, environmental elements, and natural aging, can be more than just a minor annoyance. It can significantly impact your quality of life.
Effective treatments for dry eyes range from simple lifestyle changes to advanced medical interventions, tailored to address the underlying causes and relieve symptoms.
I’m Damon Ezekiel, owner and principal optometrist at Ezekiel Eyes. My fellow optometrist Rhiannon Richer and I have dedicated ourselves to understanding and effectively managing this condition.
There’s a widespread belief that dry eyes are just a fleeting inconvenience, easily brushed off. But that’s far from the truth. A patient of ours, a 45 year old public servant, who initially underestimated her symptoms, found her daily life severely disrupted by the constant discomfort. Only after proper diagnosis and treatment at our clinic did she experience a dramatic turnaround and regain comfort.
Leaving dry eyes untreated isn’t a risk worth taking. Beyond feeling terrible, it can lead to more serious issues, including long-term damage to your eye’s surface. It’s crucial to understand and choose the right treatment.
In this article, we will explore seven effective treatment options, including innovative approaches like IPL Light Therapy and Eyelid Massage, particularly beneficial for those experiencing Meibomian Gland Dysfunction. We’ll also delve into how lifestyle factors play a role and what changes can make a significant difference.
Curious about how these treatments can help you? Read on to discover how you can alleviate your symptoms, or better yet, book an appointment with us at Ezekiel Eyes. Let’s work together to ensure your eyes are as comfortable and healthy as possible.
Understanding Dry Eyes: Causes and Symptoms
Living in Perth, with its windy conditions, presents specific challenges when it comes to maintaining eye health. One common issue many of us face is dry eye syndrome. But what exactly causes dry eyes, and how do they affect individuals like us?
Dry eyes occur when our eyes either don’t produce enough tears or the quality of tears is poor. This imbalance can lead to discomfort, irritation, redness and even blurred vision. In Perth, factors such as prolonged exposure to computer screens, dry winds that can evaporate the tear film, and natural aging or hormonal changes significantly contribute to this condition.
A crucial aspect of dry eye disease is Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD). Meibomian glands are located in our eyelids and are responsible for secreting oils that prevent the evaporation of our tear film. When these glands don’t function correctly or are partially or fully blocked – a condition more common in adults – it leads to the rapid evaporation of tears, resulting in dry eye syndrome. MGD is a leading cause of dry eyes and a condition we frequently address at Ezekiel Eyes.
Understanding these causes and symptoms is the first step towards finding relief. Each individual’s experience with dry eyes can vary, which is why personalized treatment is key. At Ezekiel Eyes, we focus on identifying the specific factors contributing to each patient’s symptoms, ensuring we recommend the most effective treatment for their unique situation.
Dry eye disease is a prevalent condition which you can see from the following data taken from a recent survey of optometrists who reported the percentages of their patient base who are experiencing dry eye symptoms.
|Adolescents and teens
|Adults 20-40 years old
|Adults 41-60 years old
|Adults 61 and older
|Contact lens wearers
Diagnosing Dry Eye Disease
To diagnose dry eyes, several tests and procedures are commonly used:
- Comprehensive Eye Exam: Involves a detailed review of your overall health and eye health history to help diagnose the cause of dry eyes.
- Schirmer Tear Test: Measures tear production by placing blotting paper under the lower eyelids for five minutes and then measuring the soaked amount.
- Phenol Red Thread Test: Another method for measuring tear volume, this test involves a thread with pH-sensitive dye that changes colour with tears, placed over the lower eyelid for 15 seconds.
- Quality of Tears Test: Uses special dyes in eye drops to assess the surface condition of the eyes, looking at staining patterns on the corneas and timing tear evaporation.
At Ezekiel Eyes, we’re also proud to utilize the Medmont Meridia a state-of-the-art diagnostic tool that significantly enhances our ability to diagnose and monitor dry eye disease in our patients. This advanced device plays a crucial role in our clinic by providing detailed corneal imaging and comprehensive dry eye analysis. We specifically use the Medmont Merida to closely examine the tear film and Meibomian glands, which are vital in identifying and understanding dry eye syndrome.
With its ability to measure tear film break-up time and tear meniscus height the Medmont Merida enables us to precisely assess tear film stability and quantity. This insight is critical in diagnosing various aspects of dry eye disease. This instrument’s advanced imaging technology allows us to visualize the Meibomian glands, aiding in the detection of Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD), a common underlying cause of dry eyes.
By integrating the Medmont Meridia into our diagnostic process, we can offer a more accurate and comprehensive evaluation of dry eye conditions. This not only assists us in developing targeted treatment plans but also in effectively monitoring the progression and response to treatment of dry eye disease in our patients, ensuring the highest standard of care at Ezekiel Eyes.
Seven Treatments for Dry Eyes
In our mission to combat dry eyes we’ve identified seven popular treatments that have proven effective for many of our patients. Let’s explore these options, understanding that each treatment caters to different aspects of dry eye syndrome.
1) Artificial Tears and Lubricating Eye Drops
A straightforward and accessible option is over-the-counter artificial tears. These lubricating eye drops provide immediate relief by supplementing your natural tear film. They’re especially useful for those moments when your eyes feel momentarily dry, perhaps due to a day spent outdoors in the wind or long hours in front of a screen. We always recommend preservative free artificial tears.
2) Prescription Eye Drops
For more persistent cases of dry eyes, prescription medications can be a game-changer. Anti-inflammatory eye drops like a cyclosporine derivative help reduce inflammation on the eye’s surface, improving tear production and quality. These treatments are particularly effective for those with chronic dry eye conditions.
3) Punctal Plugs
Punctal plugs offer a unique approach. These tiny devices are inserted into the tear ducts to slow the drainage of tears, keeping your eyes more lubricated. This method is great for conserving and maintaining your natural tear film, particularly in environments where tear evaporation is a concern.
4) Lid Debridement
Blepharitis is the inflammation of the eyelids, often contributes to dry eyes. Lid Debridement is a procedure we use to gently and effectively clean the eyelid margins. Removing the buildup of bacteria and debris can significantly improve symptoms and overall eye health.
5) Warm Eye Masks
An at-home remedy that can provide significant relief is the use of warm eye masks. These masks help improve Meibomian gland function, crucial in maintaining a healthy tear film. Regular use can help mitigate the effects of MGD and provide comfort from dry eye symptoms. Bruder heat masks are particularly good for dry eye sufferers.
In our clinic, we also offer Blephasteam sessions. This treatment involves applying a controlled amount of heat and humidity to the eyes, helping to unblock/soften up the plugs of the Meibomian glands. It’s an effective in-clinic option for those suffering from MGD, providing significant relief. A 10 minutes session leads to the relief of symptoms and improves eyelid health and daily comfort.
7) IPL Light Therapy and Eyelid Massage
IPL Light Therapy combined with a Blephasteam session and eyelid massage is a more advanced treatment we’re proud to offer. Intense-pulsed light therapy targets the inflammation that contributes to MGD, while the subsequent blephasteam and eyelid massage helps to express the clogged oil glands. This combination has shown remarkable results in managing dry eye symptoms, especially for those with chronic conditions.
Each of these treatments can play a vital role in managing dry eyes, and often, a combination approach is most effective. At Ezekiel Eyes, we’re committed to identifying the most suitable treatment plan for each individual, taking into account their specific symptoms and lifestyle factors. Remember, managing dry eyes is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and personalized care is key to achieving the best outcomes.
There are other aspects to be healthy and to minimise our dry eye effects. Staying hydrates is very important. The recommendation is 2-3 litres of water per day. Another aspect is the amount of Omega 3 and 6’s that we add into our diet. The antioxidant properties of fish oil is very beneficial to our health.
Like to know more about eye drops for dry eye disease? Watch the following video where I discuss a new eye drop product that is especially good for contact lens wearers.
When to Seek Professional Help
Understanding when to seek professional help for dry eyes is crucial. While many experience temporary discomfort that can be alleviated with simple remedies, there are instances when consulting an eye care professional is imperative.
If you find that over-the-counter eye drops aren’t providing lasting relief, or if your symptoms persist despite making lifestyle changes, it’s time to consult with an optometrist. Symptoms such as persistent redness, irritation, a feeling of a foreign body in the eye, or blurred vision should not be ignored. These can be indicators of underlying issues that require professional attention.
In our practice, we often meet patients who have endured discomfort for far too long, thinking it’s just a part of life or something they must live with. But in many cases, early intervention can lead to better management and relief of symptoms. If you’re experiencing any changes in your vision, or if your eyes feel consistently uncomfortable, it’s important to get them checked.
At Ezekiel Eyes, we don’t just offer treatments; we also provide comprehensive assessments to understand the root cause of your dry eye symptoms. Our goal is to offer a personalised treatment plan that addresses your specific needs and lifestyle, ensuring the best possible outcome for your eye health.
Remember, your eyes are a vital part of your life, and taking care of them should be a priority. Seeking professional help at the right time can make a significant difference in your comfort and overall quality of life.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the two main causes of dry eyes?
The two main causes of dry eyes are decreased tear production and poor tear quality. Decreased tear production means your eyes don’t make enough tears to stay moist, often due to aging, certain medical conditions, blocked meibomian glands or as a side effect of some medications. Poor tear quality, on the other hand, is usually related to problems with the oil glands in your eyelids (like in Meibomian Gland Dysfunction), leading to tears that evaporate too quickly.
What should I avoid if I have dry eyes?
If you’re suffering from dry eyes, it’s best to avoid environments with dry, moving air, like being directly in front of air conditioners or fans. Reducing screen time and taking regular breaks during long periods of computer use can also help. Avoid smoking and exposure to smoke, as it can worsen dry eye symptoms. Be mindful of medications that can contribute to dry eyes, such as certain antihistamines and decongestants, and consult with a healthcare professional if you believe your medication is affecting your eye health.
Can dry eyes affect my vision permanently?
While dry eyes can cause discomfort and temporary blurring of vision, they typically do not lead to permanent vision loss. However, if left untreated, severe dry eyes can lead to eye inflammation, abrasion of the corneal surface, corneal ulcers, and vision impairment. This is why it’s important to address dry eye symptoms early and effectively.
How do I know if my dry eye is chronic?
Dry eye can be considered chronic if it persists for an extended period, typically more than a few weeks, and does not improve with basic remedies like over-the-counter eye drops. Symptoms like ongoing irritation, a persistent feeling of dryness, redness, and fluctuating vision are signs that your dry eye may be chronic. In such cases, it’s best to consult an eye care professional for a comprehensive evaluation.
Can lack of sleep cause dry eyes?
Yes, lack of sleep can contribute to dry eyes. When you don’t get enough sleep, your eyes miss out on essential rest and rejuvenation, leading to symptoms of dryness and irritation. Additionally, not getting enough sleep can reduce the lubrication your eyes need, as tear production typically increases during sleep. Ensuring a good night’s sleep is an important part of managing dry eye symptoms.
In this article we’ve explored the challenges of dry eyes, a common issue here in Perth. From understanding the various causes to exploring both simple and advanced treatment options, it’s clear that dealing with dry eyes is a unique experience for everyone. At Ezekiel Eyes, we get that, and that’s why we tailor our approach to each person who walks through our doors.
It’s important to understand that ignoring dry eye symptoms can lead to more than just discomfort. Without proper care, you risk serious eye health issues down the line. It’s not just about momentary relief from itchy eyes; it’s about protecting your eyesight for the future.
If you’re finding that your eyes are constantly irritated, it might be time for us to have a chat. At Ezekiel Eyes, you’ll find a team ready to listen and to offer a treatment plan that’s as unique as you are.
Scheduling an appointment with us is straightforward. Just give us a call at (08) 9386 3620, or if you prefer, click the “Book an Appointment” button on our website. We’re here to help you find relief and to ensure your eyes are getting the best care possible.
Your eyes are precious, and taking good care of them is essential for enjoying all the beautiful sights life has to offer. So, don’t wait for your dry eye symptoms to get worse. Let’s work together to keep your eyes healthy and comfortable!
In addition to owning and managing Ezekiel Eyes, Damon is a contact lens consultant to various research organisations. He regularly lectures and conducts workshops in contact lens practice throughout Australia, Asia and the United States. Damon graduated from the University of NSW with a Bachelor of Optometry in 1989. He is now married with two children and enjoys running, hockey, swimming, piano, travelling and trekking.
Damon’s professional associations include:
President of the International Society of Contact Lens Specialists
Practising Fellow of the Scleral Lens Education Society
Fellow of the Cornea & Contact Lens Society of Australia
Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry
Member of Optometry Australia
Member of the Orthokeratology Society of Australia
Member of Alcon Australia advisory panel