Dry Eye Solutions
Dry eye is a condition in which there are insufficient tears to lubricate and nourish the eye. Tears are necessary for maintaining the health of the front surface of the eye and for providing clear vision. People with dry eyes either do not produce enough tears or have a poor quality of tears. Dry eye is a common and often chronic problem, particularly in older adults.
With each blink of the eyelids, tears are spread across the front surface of the eye, known as the cornea. Tears provide lubrication, reduce the risk of eye infection, wash away foreign matter in the eye, and keep the surface of the eyes smooth and clear. Excess tears in the eyes flow into small drainage ducts, in the inner corners of the eyelids, which drain in the back of the nose.
Dry eyes can result from an improper balance of tear production and drainage.
Inadequate amount of tears — Tears are produced by several glands of certain medicines. Environmental conditions such as wind and dry climates can also affect tear volume by increasing tear evaporation. When the normal amount of tear production decreases or tears evaporate too quickly from the eyes, symptoms of dry eye can develop.
Poor quality of tears — Tears are made up of three layers: oil, water, and mucus. Each component serves a function in protecting and nourishing the front surface of the eye. A smooth oil layer helps to prevent evaporation of the water layer, while the mucin layer functions in spreading the tears evenly over the surface of the eye. If the tears evaporate too quickly or do not spread evenly over the cornea due to deficiencies with any of the three tear layers, dry eye symptoms can develop.
People with dry eyes may experience symptoms of irritated, gritty, scratchy, or burning eyes, a feeling of something in their eyes, excess watering, and blurred vision. Advanced dry eyes may damage the front surface of the eye and impair vision.
Treatments for dry eyes aim to restore or maintain the normal amount of tears in the eye to minimize dryness and related discomfort and to maintain eye health.
New treatments for Dry Eye at East Memphis Optometry
Autologous Serum drops
Some patients, for a variety of reasons, suffer from severe dryness of the eye that can lead to redness, itching and pain. Many can be helped by intensive treatment with artificial teardrops. However, for some patients these symptoms are not completely relieved. The National Blood Service (NBS) has recently developed an alternative to these artificial drops. They are called autologous serum eyedrops and are made from a patient’s own blood. These eyedrops naturally contain ingredients that are known to speed up healing and increase lubrication of the surface of the eye.
Eye drops made from a person's own serum are superior to artificial tears for relieving signs and symptoms of severe dry eyes.
The autologous serum contains essential components for maintaining eye surface health. None of the commercially available artificial tear preparations contain growth factors, vitamin A and other natural components, which have been shown to play an important role in maintaining eye health. Autologous serum and tears have identical salinity and pH, there is no issue of burning or stinging upon instillation
We use a local East Memphis laboratory and compounding pharmacy to produce the eye drops in the same day. The eyedrops are made using the clear part (serum) of your blood. The serum is diluted with saline and bottled into eyedropper bottles that need to be kept in the freezer until use. The drops contain no additives or preservatives, just your own serum diluted with saline. A typical draw will deliver anywhere from 6 – 8 bottles, and cost on average about $115.00 for the entire process, which should produce enough drops to last 4 – 6 months.
We have the ability to treat our patients with amniotic tissue. This is a new and innovative field that we feel can add additional therapeutic options in our ability to treat surface diseases of the eye.
This procedure requires the placement of amniotic tissue bandage onto the surface of the eye. These bandages incorporate natural substances to aid in ocular surface reconstruction and promote healing. It is now being used to treat severe superficial ocular surface disease. The results have been outstanding. Now, when conventional treatments become ineffective or the need for additional therapy is needed we have other options. This therapeutic procedure has been shown to significantly improve the outcome in treatment of certain conditions. The conditions of dry eye, keratitis sicca, recurrent corneal erosion, corneal dystrophy, poor wound healing from chemical, thermal, or infections, bullous keratopathy, and others now have a much better outcome potential with this procedure.
The amniotic membrane is the inner most layer of the placenta consisting of a thick basement membrane and a vascular stromal matrix. This tissue is obtained by donation. Amniotic tissue is harvested and preserved following the delivery of a healthy newborn by C section. The tissue is analyzed for a multitude of diseases; sanitized and processed. This preparation makes every attempt to retain its healing properties.
East Memphis Optometry Now Offers FDA-Approved Xiidra for Treating Dry Eyes
Xiidra (lifitegrast ophthalmic solution) is now available for dry eye treatment. The only prescription eyedrop FDA-approved for treating both symptoms and signs of dry eye disease, Xiidra is also the first medication to be approved by the FDA for dry eye syndrome in over ten years.
How Does Xiidra Relieve Dry Eye Symptoms?
Xiidra suppresses inflammation mediated by your T cells, a specialized white blood cell key to supporting your immune system. By helping T cells fight inflammation causing dry eye disease, Xiidra enhances the immune system response to a variety of disorders responsible for dry eye irritation.
People with Sjorgrens syndrome will also benefit from Xiidra's ability to regulate a dysfunctional immune system. Characterized by an extremely dry mouth and dry eyes, Sjorgrens syndrome occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks the salivary and lacrimal glands and prevents them from producing sufficient saliva and tears.
What causes dry eyes?
The development of dry eyes can have many causes. They include:
Age — dry eye is a part of the natural aging process. The majority of people over age 65 experience some symptoms of dry eyes.
Gender — women are more likely to develop dry eyes due to hormonal changes caused by pregnancy, the use of oral contraceptives, and menopause.
Medications — certain medicines, including antihistamines, decongestants, blood pressure medications and antidepressants, can reduce the amount of tears produced in the eyes.
Medical conditions — persons with rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and thyroid problems are more likely to have symptoms of dry eyes. Also, problems with inflammation of the eyelids (blepharitis), inflammation of the surfaces of the eye, or the inward or outward turning of eyelids can cause dry eyes to develop.
Environmental conditions — exposure to smoke, wind and dry climates can increase tear evaporation resulting in dry eye symptoms. Failure to blink regularly, such as when staring at a computer screen for long periods of time, can also contribute to drying of the eyes.
Other factors — long term use of contact lenses can be a factor in the development of dry eyes. Refractive eye surgeries, such as LASIK, can cause decreased tear production and dry eyes.
Dry eyes can be diagnosed through a comprehensive eye examination. Testing, with special emphasis on the evaluation of the quantity and quality of tears produced by the eyes.
Using the information obtained from testing, we can determine if you have dry eyes and advise you on treatment options.
How are dry eyes treated?
Dry eyes can be a chronic condition, but your optometrist can prescribe treatment to keep your eyes healthy, more comfortable, and prevent your vision from being affected. The primary approaches used to manage and treat dry eyes include adding tears, conserving tears, increasing tear production, and treating the inflammation of the eyelids or eye surface that contributes to the dry eyes.
Adding tears - Mild cases of dry eyes can often be managed using over-the-counter artificial tear solutions or prescription strength tear solutions such as FreshKote. However, some people may have persistent dry eyes that don’t respond to artificial tears alone. Additional steps need to be taken to treat their dry eyes.
Conserving tears - An additional approach to reducing the symptoms of dry eyes is to keep natural tears in the eyes longer. This can be done by blocking the tear ducts through which the tears normally drain. The tear ducts can be blocked with tiny silicone or gel-like plugs that can be removed, if needed. The goal is to keep the available tears in the eye longer to reduce problems related to dry eyes.
Increasing tear production - Prescription eye drops that help to increase production of tears can be prescribed, as well as omega-3 fatty acid nutritional supplements.
Treatment of the contributing eyelid or ocular surface inflammation - Prescription eye drops or ointments, warm compresses and lid massage, or eyelid cleaners may be recommended to help decrease inflammation around the surface of the eyes.
Steps you can take to reduce symptoms of dry eyes include:
- Remembering to blink regularly when reading or staring at a computer screen for long periods of time.
- Increasing the level of humidity in the air at work and at home.
- Wearing sunglasses outdoors, particularly those with wrap around frame design, to reduce exposure to drying winds and sun.
- Using nutritional supplements containing essential fatty acids may help decrease dry eye symptoms in some people. Ask your optometrist if the use of dietary supplements could be of help for your dry eye problems.
- Avoiding becoming dehydrated by drinking plenty of water (8 to 10 glasses) each day.
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