Dry Eye Treatment

Dry eye syndrome can be a chronic condition, but there are a variety of treatment options available. 

Eye Society has two locations in Chicago, and has a professional staff that can help you relieve dry eyes.

guy rubbing his dry eyes

What are Dry Eye Symptoms?

Dry eye symptoms can come in several forms. But what do cases of dry eyes feel like?

The most common symptoms of dry eye include:

  • Feeling of scratchiness, grittiness, stinging, burning, or itching in the eyes
  • Excessive tearing
  • Redness
  • Blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Feeling a sensation of having something in the eye

However, these symptoms are not enough proof of Dry Eye unless diagnosed by the optician. If we find that you have the condition, there are plenty of treatment options available.

Can Dry Eyes Cause Headaches?

No, dry eyes typically do not cause headaches. However, if you have a condition such as Sjogren’s syndrome, it’s possible that the associated inflammation and/or medications used to treat the condition could contribute to headaches.

If you have persistent headaches that are accompanied by dry eyes, it is recommended that you schedule an appointment with an eye doctor.

Can Dry Eyes Cause Blindness?

No, dry eyes alone do not typically cause blindness. However, if left untreated, dry eyes can lead to complications that can cause vision loss or blindness. These complications include corneal scarring, corneal ulcers, and optic nerve damage.

Can Dry Eyes Cause Floaters?

No, dry eyes do not cause floaters. Floaters are typically caused by changes in the vitreous, the jelly-like substance that fills the middle of the eye. Floaters can also be caused by age-related changes of the vitreous, inflammation or bleeding in the eye, or other eye conditions.

What Causes Dry Eyes?

There are several common reasons for dry eyes. The condition may arise as a result of too much exposure to computer light, aging, and environmental irritants such as dust.

Dry eye is an abnormality on the layer of the eye (ocular surface), which prevents the delicate eye tissues and facilitates vision. These defects affect your ability to perceive things properly.

Dry eye does not necessarily mean that your eyes are literally dry. However, when you have Dry Eye Syndrome or Dry Eye Disease, it means that your eyes have a problem with the tear film.

People with dry eyes may have trouble producing enough tears, but there can be many other causes for the condition as well.

Some of the factors that cause dry eyes include:

  • Environmental conditions (dry air)
  • Prolonged use of digital devices
  • Age
  • Certain medications
  • Medical conditions (such as blepharitis, keratoconjunctivitis sicca, and Sjogren’s syndrome)

In addition, some medications can cause your body to produce less liquid, and that could have an impact your tear film. 

There are also eyelid conditions that can prevent tears from forming.

Why are my eyes dry when I wake up?

Dry eye when waking up is often caused by environmental factors like sleeping in a dry or dusty room, or sleeping in an air-conditioned room.

It can also be caused by not blinking enough during sleep, or by not producing enough tears during sleep.

Running an air humidifier at night while you sleep might help your symptoms, but you should contact an eye specialist to learn more.

Can allergies cause dry eyes?

Yes, allergies can cause dry eyes. People with allergies often experience an increase in eye irritation and dryness due to the release of histamine into the body.

Histamine can cause inflammation of the conjunctiva, which is the thin layer of tissue that covers the front of the eye, resulting in dryness and irritation.

Man rubbing irritated eyes

How an Optometrist Can Help

If you only have dry eyes every now and then, a few drops may fix the problem. However, your optometrist can do a comprehensive eye exam to diagnose any eye issues you may have.

Measuring your tear volume, alongside the quality of those tears, can give us the information we need to find a course of treatment to alleviate your dry eye symptoms.

Treatment Options

Over the counter eye drops

If it is not too severe, simple over the counter eye drops may be all you need.

You can find some of the best eye drops for dry eyes by visiting our online shop.

Prescription eye drops

When those aren’t enough, our optometry professional in Chicago can order you prescription strength eye drops that may help.

Tear duct medication and inserts

There are also medications that can reduce inflammation in the eyelids, which may be clogging up your tear ducts. In some severe cases, inserts are used that can create artificial tears.

There are also drugs that stimulate teardrops which may also be prescribed.

Physical Treatments

If medicine does not work, and eye drops don’t work either, there are some things an optometrist can do. Some physical treatments for dry eye include:

  • Treatment to close some tear ducts to reduce tear loss
  • Special contact lenses (see Scleral Lenses)
  • Use heat therapy to unblock oil glands
  • Light therapy
  • Eyelid massage

Lid Therapy

Lid therapy helps the Meibomian glands to produce meibum, which will help your eyes to get rid of your tears faster through the tear film.

This is achieved by massaging the Meibomian glands in order to improve its secretions. As a result, this process can help provide relief by regulating your tear production.

Home Remedies

Although less effective than other procedures, here’s some simple home remedies for dry eyes you can consider:

Warm Compress

Placing a warm compress on the surface of your eyes for 5 minutes once or twice a day can increase circulation to the eye and stimulate tear production.

Eyelid Wash

Keeping your eyelids clean can help your produce higher quality tears. To do this, take a small amount of gentle cleanser like baby shampoo, and rub it between your fingers to make it frothy. Then, close your eyes and gently massage it onto the base of your eyelids near your eyelashes. Rinse with warm water while your eyes remain closed.

Wear Sunglasses

If you’re outdoors in an area that’s bright, dusty, windy, or has a high risk of UV exposure, wear high quality polarized sunglasses. This can help prevent dry eye and another eye condition called photophobia, which is an acute sensitivity to light.

Coconut Oil

Applying virgin coconut oil on the surface of your eyelid protects your tear film layers, and thereby reduces tear evaporation. Simply soak a cotton ball in coconut oil and dab it on your closed eye lid several times per day.

Blinking more can stimulate the flow of tears, which keeps the moisture of your eyes stable and intact. Deliberate blinking may look and feel a little bit unnatural or awkward, but doing so is a free and easy way to stimulate tear production.

Change Your Environment

If you live in an area with poor air quality, pollution, dry air, dust, smoke, or high winds, then your environment could be causing your dry eyes. Therefore, changing your environment by purchasing a cold-mist air humidifier or avoiding direct contact with an air conditioner or fan can help.

Change Your Diet

  • Here’s some dietary improvements you can make to help prevent dry eye symptoms:
    • Stop Smoking
    • Reduce Alcohol intake
    • Drink More Water
    • Add Omega-3 Fatty Acids
    • Increase Your Caffeine Intake

Schedule an Appointment

If you are a Chicago resident and have any of these symptoms or suspect that you may be suffering from one of the mentioned conditions, you need to see our optometrists in Chicago immediately.

Contact Eye Society at (312) 640-2405 (Streeterville) or (312) 631-3247 (Loop) to find out how our eye doctors can further assist you or to make an appointment.