One of the most common problems seen in people of all ages is dry eyes. The symptoms include eye pain and burning, eye redness, fluctuating vision and eyelid twitching. There are many causes of dry eye, including decreased tear production, poor quality tear film, and use of certain medications. Your doctor can determine how much your eyes tear, and if there is any damage to the surface of the eye from dry eye.
Fortunately, there are many treatments for dry eye. Your doctor may initially recommend artificial tears. If these are not enough, a number of prescription eye drop medicines are available to increase your tear production. The most common of these are Restasis and Lotemax. Furthermore, research has shown that oral intake of Omega-3 fatty acids, present in fish oil and flaxseed oil, can improve dry eye significantly. If your doctor determines that there is a problem with the tear quality, certain oral medicines and eye drops may be prescribed.
In many patients, the best way to treat dry eye is by placing a punctal plug. These tiny plugs are placed in the openings of the ducts that drain tears from the eye. Much like plugging the drain in a bathtub, the amount of tears available in your eye increases when the drainage is stopped, resulting in improved vision and comfort. Punctal plugs can be inserted in the office in a painless procedure lasting only a few minutes. They are covered by medical insurances and can frequently help decrease patient costs by reducing dependence on artificial tears. If they are no longer necessary, the punctal plugs can be easily removed by your doctor.
Be sure to notify your eye doctor if you are affected by dry eyes, so that a personalized treatment plan can be made to minimize your discomfort and improve your vision.