Dry eye disease is a multifactorial disease, meaning there are many factors that contribute to it. There are several categories of dry eye syndrome.
Aqueous Deficient Dry Eye
The lacrimal gland is the small yellow structure near the brow. Dry eye of the lacrimal glands is caused by the lack of production of fluid by the lacrimal glands. This creates an insufficient amount of moisture on the surface of the eyes.
Meibomian Gland Dysfunction
Dry eye secondary to meibomian gland dysfunction is caused by inflammation. Miebomian glands are glands that line both upper and lower lid margins and secrete oils onto the surface of the eyes. Inflammation causes the oils to thicken and to no longer be able to coat the surface of the eyes leading to dryness. This is by far the most common cause of dry eyes.
Dry eye secondary to Sjogren’s syndrome is dry eye caused by the immune system attacking the mucous membranes of the entire body including the eyes. The two most common symptoms are dry eye and dry mouth as those are the two organs in the body that are first effected by Sjogren’s.
There are many factors that contribute to inflammation in the eyes. These factors include bacteria buildup on the eyelids, computer use, aging changes, hormonal changes, medications, contact lenses, and different environments, i.e. air conditioning, dry heat during the winter and fans indoors and cold or hot dry air, dusty, windy conditions outdoors.
There is no quick cure for dry eye, but there are treatments that can help to improve the health of the glands and relieve discomfort if applied on a regular bases. The treatment options include
Avoiding dusty and windy environments, where possible. Consider humidifying indoor spaces.
Take omega-3 fatty acids to decrease inflammation in the glands. Foods such as walnuts, salmon, tuna and ground flax seed are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Recommended omega-3 brands are Ocusci (found on Amazon) and Nordic Naturals, specifically EPA Xtra (found online and in stores).
Apply warm compresses to melt and release the meibum. Recommended product Ocusci warm compress (found on Amazon).
Use an eyelid cleanser to clear away bacteria on your eyelids. Recommended product is Hypochlor (found on Amazon).
Use artificial tears to keep eyes moistened and lubricated. Keep in mind artificial tears are simply a relieving drop and do not address the inflammation occurring. Recommended product is Refresh Optive Mega-3.
Use anti-inflammatory drops to reduce inflammation. This is something that your doctor can prescribe for you. There are several options available that your doctor can discuss with you.
Insert punctal plugs into tiny openings in the eyelid that drain the tears from your eyes. This is also something that can be discussed with you doctor