About Dry Eye: Normal Tear Production
There are two kinds of tears: the kind that lubricates the eye surface every time you blink (basal tears) and the kind you produce (reactive tears) in reaction to eye surface irritation or emotion (crying). Of the two kinds, basal tears are probably more important, as they help maintain eye health all day long, while reactive tears are most useful for flushing irritants off the ocular surface.
Reactive tears are produced by the main tear gland, located in the upper outer quadrant under your eyebrow. Smaller “accessory” tear glands, located within the inner conjunctival lining of your eyelids, produce the basal tears.
Interestingly, tears are not simply salty water. Other substances are needed to stabilize tears, so they don’t just run down by simple gravity. Every time you blink, the eye gets lubricated with a little fresh cocktail of water, mucus, and oil. Ticho Eye Associates specialists will inspect the different parts of the eye lubrication system — from the faucet to the drain — to detect dry eyes and recommend an appropriate treatment.
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Different Types of Dry Eye
The eye surface can dry out because less is coming out of the faucet (decreased tear production). The tears produced are unstable (imbalances in the mucus or oil layers), or because of mechanical problems, which impair tear distribution (droopy or lax eyelids) or increase evaporation (wind and air conditioning).
Over time, tear production slows, affecting the majority of adults eventually. When the lacrimal glands don’t make as many tears, dry eye symptoms arise, including burning and a feeling of grittiness. Aside from aging, other causes of dry eye syndrome include medication side effects (antihistamines, sleeping pills, or blood pressure medications) and many systemic diseases (thyroid problems; diabetes; rheumatoid arthritis; Sjögren’s syndrome, and Parkinson’s disease).
Many issues can aggravate dry eyes, including your environment (exposure to dust, smoke, and other pollutants), allergic conjunctivitis, contact lens use, and prolonged use of technology or television/smartphone screens. Computer vision syndrome has become an increasingly common contributor to dry eye syndrome because screen use is known to reduce blink frequency. The ophthalmologists and optometrists at Ticho Eye Associates use specialized testing to determine if your dry eye is due to decreased tear production, inflammatory tear instability, or structural eyelid or conjunctival problems.
Dry Eye Treatment Options
The first step in treatment is to identify whether your dry eye is due to decreased tear production, inflammatory tear instability, or structural eyelid or conjunctival problems. Special diagnostic tests used at Ticho Eye Associates include:
TearLab Osmolarity System
Schirmer tear production
Tear break-up time
Dry eye treatment options include:
Artificial tears - available at pharmacies and grocery stores without a prescription. Preservative-free artificial tears are best for long-term use; thicker versions (gels and ointments) last longer but tend to temporarily blur vision.
Avoid exposure to hot or cold air low associated with air conditioning or indoor heating.
Use a humidifier in your bedroom and any other space where you spend a lot of time.
Reduce contact lens use.
Use goggles or “moisture chambers” that fit on glasses. These can help retain moisture around your eyes
Omega-3 fatty acid supplements have a beneficial effect on eyelid oil gland secretions and tear stability.
Prescription eye drops that increase tear production, such as ophthalmic cyclosporine (Restasis, Cequa, or Xiidra)
Anti-inflammatory eye drops
Tear duct (punctal) plugs
Tear duct surgery
Please make an appointment at a Ticho Eye Associates location in Chicago Ridge, IL, Tinley Park, IL, and Munster, IN for a thorough dry eye evaluation and treatment program.
Blepharitis refers to inflammation (“-itis”) of the eyelids (“blepharo-”), and comes in several varieties, including eyelid inflammation related to seborrheic dermatitis, rosacea, dysfunction eyelid oil glands (meibomianitis), allergies, eyelash mites or lice, and dry eyes.
Symptoms may be similar to dry eye syndromes such as ocular redness, crusting, scratchiness, and burning. The dysfunctional eyelid oil glands in blepharitis patients occasionally lead to full-blown oil gland blockage (stye or chalazion) or infected oil gland blockage (hordeolum).
Blepharitis is best evaluated using a slit-lamp biomicroscope, which provides a high magnification of the eyelids and ocular surface. Our team of ophthalmologists and optometrists at Ticho Eye Associates are highly experienced in the detection, diagnosis, and treatment of all forms of blepharitis. With locations in Chicago Ridge, IL, Tinley Park, IL, and Munster, IN, help is just around the corner
Dry Eye And Blepharitis FAQ
Can dry eye or blepharitis lead to permanent eye damage?
No, not usually. While dry eye can lead to blepharitis and corneal abrasions or corneal ulcers, the more pressing concern is an increased risk of eye inflammation, eye infections, and your overall comfort. Blepharitis typically does not lead to permanent eye damage and it is not a contagious condition.
What are the most common symptoms of dry eye and blepharitis?
The most common symptoms of dry eye include:
- A gritty, sandy, or burning feeling in the eyes
- Blurry vision
- Eye redness and irritation that worsens throughout the day
- General eye discomfort
Symptoms of blepharitis include those listed above and:
- Greasy-looking eyelids
- Sticky eyes, especially in the morning
- Swollen, sore, and/or red eyelids
- Flaking skin around the eyes
- Crusty eyelashes
- Itchy eyes
When should I see a doctor for my dry eyes or blepharitis?
While dry eye and/or blepharitis will usually go away on their own, sometimes it will not. If your symptoms become chronic, in that they persist for an extended period of time, resist at-home treatments, and begin to interfere with your normal activities, you may consider scheduling an appointment at Ticho Eye Associates.
Blepharitis Treatment: Get Relief Today
Living with dry eyes and blepharitis can be frustrating, uncomfortable, and occasionally may lead to significant visual impairments. The first steps in treating blepharitis are often to properly clean and recondition the eyelid surface. Therapeutic options offered at TichoEye Associates include:
Warm compresses to loosen eyelid crusting and soften thick Meibomian gland secretions
A heated eye mask is both comforting and therapeutic — excellent options include the Bruder mask and OCuSOFT® eye mask (http://www.ocusoft.com/ocusoft-dry-eye-mask-premium)
OCuSOFT®’s Thermal 1-Touch offers preset modes and temperature settings, which can treat four eyelids simultaneously
Sciton® intense pulsed light therapy has been shown to treat eyelid blood vessels, decrease inflammatory cytokine release, reduce eyelid bacteria levels, and even reduce eyelid mites and other parasites
Meibomian gland manual expression
Topical anti-inflammatory drops and eye ointments
Ticho Eye Associates boasts blepharitis specialists in Chicago Ridge, IL, Tinley Park, IL, and Munster, IN.
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