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Is There a Cure for Dry Eye? Hero

Is There a Cure for Dry Eye?

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According to a recent study, more than 16 million Americans suffer from dry eye disease. But just because it’s common, doesn’t mean you should ignore it — relief is available.

Dry eyes are uncomfortable and can lead to long-term vision problems. If you’re experiencing red eyes, blurry vision, burning or irritated eyes, or another symptom of dry eye disease, book an eye exam to discuss things with your optometrist. They’ll be able to diagnose the root causes and recommend appropriate treatment. 

Let’s talk a little bit more about what that looks like.

Woman removing her glasses to rub her dry eyes

What Are the Symptoms of Dry Eye?

Symptoms of dry eye usually affect both eyes. They can include:

  • Red eyes
  • Watery eyes
  • Light sensitivity
  • Burning or scratching sensations
  • Itchy eyes
  • Feeling like something is stuck in your eye
  • Blurry vision

What Causes Dry Eye?

In order to understand whether dry eye is curable or not, we first have to understand what causes dry eye. The two main causes — poor tear quality and inadequate tear volume — can develop from a variety of factors

Age, gender, exposure to certain environmental conditions, and certain surgeries and medications can all contribute to the development of dry eye disease.

Poor Tear Quality

Oil, water, and mucus are the 3 components that make up our tears. Each of these components has an important role to play in protecting and nourishing the eye. Oil helps prevent the water from evaporating too quickly and mucus ensures that the tears are evenly spread over the eye. If one of these layers is out of balance, dry eye can occur.

Inadequate Tear Volume

Several glands in and around the eyelid are responsible for tear production. Age, as well as various environmental factors like windy or dry weather conditions can lead to a decrease in tear production or an increase in their evaporation. Certain medications or previous surgical procedures can also reduce tear volume, leading to dry eyes.

Your optometrist will evaluate your unique set of circumstances and determine the cause of your symptoms. They’ll provide you with a tailored treatment plan.

The Difference Between a Cure & a Treatment

Cures and treatments are often used interchangeably, but it’s important to know the difference. A cure implies that after a medical intervention, the problem has been completely eliminated. Treatments manage the issue. For dry eyes, treatments alleviate discomfort and provide lasting relief.

While dry eye isn’t technically curable, the treatments available offer long-term comfort. 

Red eye due to dry eye disease

Treatment Options

Punctal Plugs

When eye drops aren’t enough to offer relief for dry eyes, punctal plugs might be an option. No larger than a grain of rice, these tiny devices are inserted into tear ducts to block drainage, allowing your eyes to retain more tears. 

The tears stay on the surface of the eye longer, keeping it moist and helping to relieve dry eye symptoms. They’re nearly invisible to the naked eye and can be inserted in a matter of seconds. 

LipiFlow

Dry eyes often originate from meibomian gland dysfunction. LipiFlow is a short, in-office procedure that removes blockages from the meibomian gland using heat and gentle massage. 

During this relatively non-invasive treatment, specially-designed activators are placed over your eyes. They’re heated up to liquefy blockages and then gentle pressure flushes away dead cells. The treatment takes about 12 minutes per eye.

Eye Drops

Lubricating eye drops, also known as artificial tears, moisturize and soothe the surface of the eye. All eye drops aren’t the same. Artificial tears are different from products like contact lens rewetting solutions. 

Artificial tears are specifically made to treat dry eyes. Brands like Oasis Tears help lubricate as well as prevent irritants from entering the eye.

Nutraceuticals

A study conducted by the NIH’s National Eye Institute found that nutrition can help promote overall eye health. Omega-3 fatty acids, found in a variety of fish, nuts, seeds, and leafy green vegetables, can help to soothe the inflammation associated with dry eyes. It might also help your  meibomian glands make the oily part of your tears, preventing them from evaporating too quickly.

Antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin, found in veggies like kale and broccoli, help keep the eyes healthy. Vitamins C and E provide a boost to overall health while protecting cells and blood vessels in the eyes.

Supplements like EyePromise, available from your optometrist, can help ensure you’re getting the nutrients needed to support ocular health.

Relief is Available

If left untreated, dry eye disease can cause long-term damage. Dry eyes leave you more susceptible to infection. They can cause corneal abrasions, ulcers, and ultimately, vision loss. Performing daily tasks with dry eyes might also be more difficult. Ask your optometrist about treatment options during your next appointment

As you can see, there are several factors that might cause dry eye disease and there are a range of options for relief. La Paz Optometric Center can help determine the causes of your dry eyes and recommend a tailored treatment plan, specific to your individual needs.

While dry eye disease isn’t curable, it is certainly treatable. 

Written by Dr. Aaron Sako

Dr. Sako, who was born in Santa Monica and raised in Cerritos, first joined the La Paz Optometric family in 2001. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biological sciences in 1995 from the University of California Irvine, before earning his Doctor of Optometry, graduating with honors in 2000 from Nova Southeastern University in South Florida.

Dr. Sako’s current areas of focus are primary care, surgical consultations, surgical co-management, and specialty contact lenses. He is also glaucoma certified and is licensed in the use of therapeutic and diagnostic pharmaceutical agents. Dr. Sako has extensive clinical experience and training, and spent time at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami, Florida and the Aker Kasten Cataract and Laser Eye Institute in Boca Raton, Florida, before joining the La Paz Optometric team.

Dr. Sako is an affiliate member of a prominent Orange County laser center, allowing his patients to benefit from his unique understanding of LASIK, which he, himself, has undergone. He has also co-managed thousands of refractive procedures. A proponent of lifelong learning, Dr. Sako is also certified in Corneal Refractive Therapy (CRT), which is a non-surgical option for correcting nearsightedness, which involves patients wearing specialty contact lenses during sleep.

Dr. Sako is a member of the American Optometric Association, the California Optometric Association, the Orange County Optometric Association, the Orange County Optometrist Club, and the Asian American Optometric Society. He is currently a member of the executive board for the Asian American Optometric Society and has been since 2004. He is also a member of the prestigious Advisory Board to Vision Laser Eye Centers in Newport Beach, California.

Dr. Sako believes in the importance of community service and always striving for excellence. This former Eagle Scout is currently an active member of the Mission Viejo Rotary Club and provides charitable annual eye exams and care through this organization to children in Baja, Mexico.

Dr. Sako lives in Ladera Ranch with his wife, Mako, and their three children Skylar, Payton, and Colby. When he is not helping patients, Dr. Sako enjoys exercising, skiing, playing golf, and spending time with friends and family. He also has a keen interest in music, and enjoys playing the Tahitian drums and strumming on his ukulele.

More Articles by Dr. Aaron Sako

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