Dry eye: What is it and how can it be treated?

Dry eye is a very common eye condition that affects millions of people around the world. This condition occurs when tears are not enough to keep the eyes lubricated and healthy, which can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms and increase the risk of eye infections and other eye health problems.

Causes of dry eye

Dry eye can be caused by a variety of factors. Some of the most common causes of dry eye are described in more detail below.

  • Age: As we age, our tear glands may produce fewer tears, which can lead to dry eye. In fact, it is estimated that up to 75% of people over the age of 65 experience some degree of dry eye.
  • Medications: Some medications, such as antihistamines, antidepressants and blood pressure medications, can reduce tear production and cause dry eye. If you are taking any medications and experience dry eye symptoms, it is important to consult with your doctor to determine if the medication is the underlying cause of your symptoms.
  • Autoimmune diseases: Autoimmune diseases, such as Sjögren’s syndrome and lupus, can damage the tear glands and reduce tear production. If you have an autoimmune disease and are experiencing dry eye symptoms, it is important to consult with your doctor to determine the best way to treat your symptoms.
  • Injury or infection: Some people may simply have tear production problems due to an injury to the lacrimal gland or an infection.
  • Environmental factors: Environmental factors, such as dry air, wind and smoke, can irritate the eyes and reduce tear production. If you work in a dry or air-conditioned environment, it is important to take steps to keep your eyes lubricated and healthy. Using artificial tears and remembering to blink continuously can help a lot, especially if you work in front of a screen, as we tend to stare more and don’t take breaks.

Dry eye symptoms

Dry eye symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include:

Itching and burning

Foreign body sensation

Redness

Sensitivity to light

Blurred vision

Eye fatigue

Difficulty wearing contact lenses

It is important to note that the symptoms of dry eye can be similar to symptoms of other eye conditions, such as conjunctivitis. If you experience symptoms of dry eye, it is important to see an ophthalmologist who will be able to determine the source of the problem and offer you the most appropriate treatment.

At Clínica Oftalmológica Castanera we have the best ophthalmologists and the most advanced technology to offer you the best diagnosis. This allows us to be at the forefront and to continue to be considered one of the leading ophthalmology centres not only in Barcelona but also in the whole of Spain.

Treatment for dry eye

Treatment for dry eye depends on the cause and severity of the condition. Some common treatments for dry eye include:

  • Artificial tears: Artificial tears are drops that are similar in composition to natural tears and help to lubricate the eyes and reduce dry eye symptoms. These drops are available over-the-counter at most pharmacies.
  • Medications: Some medications, such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, can help reduce inflammation and improve tear production. Of course, this type of treatment must always be prescribed and supervised by a doctor.
  • Punctal plugs: Punctal plugs are small devices that are inserted into the tear ducts to unblock tear drainage and keep the eyes lubricated. These devices may be temporary or permanent, depending on the severity of your condition.
  • Endoret: This consists of applying the patient’s own blood plasma in the form of drops. To do this, a small amount of blood must be extracted. Subsequently, by means of a centrifugation process, the plasma is separated from the red blood cells. This plasma is packaged in single-dose units that the patient applies daily. It has been demonstrated that this plasma is rich in what are called PRGF growth factors, which have a great regenerative capacity and will help to improve the quality of the tears considerably.
  • Thermotherapy: Often the problem is caused because our tears do not contain the oily portion that characterises them. This means that only the watery part remains and therefore evaporates very easily. The glands in our eyelids (Meibomian glands) are responsible for secreting the oily part and can become blocked. One way to release the blockage is by applying direct heat and then applying gentle pressure to release the drainage channels.
  • IPL pulsed light: This is the newest and most effective treatment available at our centre. It consists of the application of a type of light that stimulates the secretion of the Meibomian glands, which improves the quality of tears. It may require more than one session (between 2 and 3) although we will notice the improvement from the first day. This treatment can be performed alone or in combination with thermotherapy.

Preventing dry eye

Although it is not always possible to prevent dry eye, there are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing the condition. Some of these measures include:

  • Blink often: Blinking frequently can help lubricate your eyes and reduce tear evaporation. If you work in front of the computer or spend a lot of time reading, it is important to take regular breaks to blink and rest your eyes.
  • Be careful with screens: Correctly adjusting the brightness and contrast settings on our devices can go a long way to reducing eye fatigue.
  • Maintain good eye hygiene: Maintaining good eye hygiene can help prevent eye infections and reduce the risk of dry eye. Use eyelid cleansing wipes, wash your hands frequently and especially avoid touching your eyes with dirty hands.
  • Avoid irritating environmental factors: Avoiding environmental irritants, such as dry air and smoke, can help prevent dry eye. If you work in a dry or air-conditioned environment, it is important to take steps to keep your eyes lubricated and healthy, such as using humidifiers or artificial tears.

In conclusion, dry eye is a common eye condition that can cause a range of uncomfortable symptoms and increase the risk of eye infections and other eye health problems. If you experience dry eye symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention to determine the cause and receive appropriate treatment. If you have any questions, we at Clinica Castanera will be happy to help.