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What Is Dry Eye?

Dry eye occurs when your tear ducts do not make enough tears to properly moisturize the surface of your eye. In some cases, dry eye can become a serious condition that may affect your vision if left untreated. Talk with one of our ophthalmologists to learn more about the treatment options we offer.

Why Choose Moran Eye Center?

The Moran Eye Center offers accessible, nationally ranked care for our patients. Our team of clinical specialists provides comprehensive eye care at multiple locations to best suit your needs. As the only academic ophthalmologic institution in the state, we have a strong reputation of trust and service across all ages and many levels of care. Our specialists have the expertise and equipment to treat any eye condition, from minor irritation to more advanced eye disease.

Ophthalmologists at Moran provide proper diagnoses for many different eye conditions. Our specialists will also help rule out underlying health issues or refer you to our network of providers for ongoing care, if needed.

Dry Eye Symptoms

The main symptom of dry eye is usually a scratchy or sandy feeling as if something is in the eye. Other symptoms may include the following:

  • Stinging or burning of the eye
  • Episodes of excess tearing that follow periods of very dry sensation
  • Stringy discharge from the eye
  • Pain and redness of the eye

Sometimes people with dry eye experience heaviness of the eyelids or blurred, changing, or decreased vision, although loss of vision is uncommon.

Man rubs eyes

How Long Does Dry Eye Last?

Dry eye is a chronic condition that will only go away with medication or removal of environmental factors (e.g., reduction of screen time, increased moisture in the air, etc.) Daily treatment may be needed to help ease your dry eye symptoms. You should begin using over-the-counter artificial tears or other recommended home remedies as soon as symptoms occur. 

Talk with your ophthalmologist if your dry eye does not improve with home care after one to two weeks.

When to See a Doctor for Dry Eye

See one of our ophthalmologists if you've had signs and symptoms of dry eyes, including red, irritated, tired, or painful eyes for longer than two weeks. Your ophthalmologist will conduct an eye exam and evaluate your symptoms to help determine if more advanced treatment is necessary. Our eye care specialists recommend beginning treatment at home to see if your symptoms improve.

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Dry Eye Causes

Dry eyes may be caused by a variety or combination of factors that interfere with healthy tear film. Your eye’s tear film is made up of three layers: fatty oils, water, and mucus. This combination normally keeps the surface of your eyes naturally moisturized. An imbalance within these layers cause dry eyes. 

Specific causes may include:

  •  cell phone, computer, tablet, or TV screen time; 
  •  low humidity climate;
  •  hormonal changes including menopause;
  •  autoimmune disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis or Sjogren’s syndrome);
  •  inflammation or allergic eye disease; 
  •  medications including antidepressants, antihistamines, chemotherapy, and nasal decongestants; and
  •  decreased tear production or increased tear evaporation.

People with dry eye should give their health care provider a list of their current medications because some of them may increase dry eye symptoms. Since dry eye can also be a sign of more serious diseases, a complete physical examination may be necessary to diagnose any underlying conditions.

Dry Eye Treatment

If your dry eye does not resolve with home care after one to two weeks, our Ophthalmology Clinic offers more advanced treatment options. 

One of our ophthalmologists will:

  • examine your eyes;
  • check your blinking; and 
  • may test the amount, quality, and thickness of your tears. 

Artificial Tears for Dry Eye

Artificial tears are the principal treatment for dry eye. Many options are available over-the- counter. In some cases, you may need a prescription eye drop to increase moisture.

Punctal Plugs

For severe dry eyes, we may recommend temporary or permanent closure of the tear drain (small openings at the inner corner of the eyelids where tears drain from the eye called puncta). Placing punctal plugs helps keep more of your own tears on the surface of your eye, increases moisture, and reduces dry eye symptoms. 

This is a brief, in-office procedure. Your ophthalmologist will apply a numbing cream to your eye. You may feel pressure on the inner corner of your eyelids as the plug is placed. Some patients may feel a mild, scratchy sensation for a few days following this procedure. We will schedule you for a follow-up visit four to six weeks after your procedure. 

Plugs may fall out over time. If you think your punctal plug has fallen out, schedule an appointment with one of our ophthalmologists.

Dry Eye Home Remedies

The best way to prevent dry eyes is to limit environmental factors that may contribute to uncomfortable symptoms. 

  •  Avoid blowing air from wind or hair dryers. 
  •  Add moisture to the air with a humidifier, especially in the winter. 
  •  Wear wraparound sunglasses when you’re outside.
  •  Use artificial tears or lubricating eye ointment at nighttime to prevent dry eyes when you wake up.
  •  Take eye breaks every 15 to 30 minutes during long tasks. 
  •  Position your computer screen below eye level to avoid eye strain. 
  •  Stop smoking and avoid smoke.

Does Drinking Water Help Dry Eyes?

Drinking water may help combat dry eye symptoms if you are dehydrated. However, excess water consumption will not relieve most cases of dry eye. 

What Vitamins Are Good for Dry Eyes?

A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids may be helpful in relieving dry eye and in maintaining good overall eye health. Omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish oil supplements, olive oil, nuts, and other healthy sources.

How to Schedule an Appointment

If you are suffering from dry eye or have other eye care concerns, contact our Ophthalmology Clinic at 801-581-2352 to schedule an appointment. 

Referrals are welcome, but not necessary. Please check with your insurance provider before scheduling a routine exam. Many insurance plans will cover your visit if there is a medical eye problem but may not allow for routine or non-specialty care eye exams.

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