Relief from Dry Eye Syndrome
Burning, scratchy and irritable eyes are the most common symptoms of dry eye syndrome. Others experiencing burning eyes report blurred vision, excessive eye watering and redness.
Dr. Kvitle and the staff at Family EyeCare have seen the number of dry eye cases dramatically increase in the last couple of years and have been successful at relieving the symptoms of dry eye syndrome for their patients.
Dry eye syndrome is usually the result of diminished tear production or a lack of fluid on the surface of the eye:
- Environment: High altitudes, dry/ windy conditions, and forced heating/air conditioning can increase the tear evaporation from your eyes. Also smoke, air pollution, dust and pollen.
- Aging: Tear production decreases with age. Often the volume of constant tears at age 65 is less than half than at age 18.
- Incomplete blinking: When you blink, you spread tears across your eyes in a sweeping motion which guides your tears toward the nose to flow into drainage ducts. If the tear drainage ducts are over active, then dry eyes and nasal congestion often result.
- Contact lenses: Contact Lenses can increase the evaporation of tears. This can lead to increased contact lens irritation, infection, and protein deposits.
- Medications: Some medications decrease the body's ability to produce tears. Some of these are decongestants, antihistamines, diuretics and heart
medicines, sleeping medicines, pain relievers, anti-depressants, and alcohol.
- Occupations: Some occupations require a lot of reading and/or computer work. Statistics show these types of duties decrease blink rate, which reduces the amount of tear spread on the eye.
- Arthritis: Accompanied by dry mouth is call sjogrens syndrome.
Eyes are lubricated by two different types of tears produced by the tear glands in the upper and lower eyelids. Constant tears are continually produced to lubricate the eye at all times and contain natural antibiotics called lysozymes to fight infections. Reflex tears are produced in response to irritation, injury, emotion or even dry eyes to help rinse the surface of the eye.
Inside the corner of the eye, a tiny hole exists, which is called the punctum. This is the opening to the tear ducts. Tear glands are like a faucet and the tear ducts are the drainpipes. Dry eye syndrome is best relieved when soft silicone plugs, called punctal plugs, are inserted into the punctum to stop the outflow of tears. Punctal plugs create a reservoir effect - keeping eyes moist with natural tears.
In order to determine if punctal plugs are the right treatment of your dry eyes, Dr. Kvitle will first utilize temporary, dissolvable plugs. These temporary plugs will allow you the opportunity to experience the relief punctal plugs provide. If your dry eye conditions improve with the use of temporary plugs, permanent punctal plugs are inserted. Punctal plugs are quickly and painlessly inserted with topical anesthesia. The plugs are very safe, and can even be removed if necessary.
If you or anyone in your family suffers from burning, scratchy, irritated or even watery eyes and are tired of the daily eye drop regime, contact Dr. Kvitle at Family Eyecare at 231-3937 to see if punctal plugs are right for you.