TREATMENT OF DRY EYE
Dry Eye is a disease that requires proper diagnosis and treatment by an ophthalmologist
The term dry eye generically refers to chronic diseases of tears and eye surfaces due to a variety of factors associated with eye discomfort and visual functional abnormalities.
Dry eye is sometimes indistinguishable from transient discomfort and illnesses because its associated symptoms and causes are diverse. Therefore, the right diagnosis and treatment cannot be made without an ophthalmologist.
Leaving symptoms untreated may lead to unfavorable outcomes
The symptoms of dry eye are diverse, ranging from dryness of the eye to eye strain and pain.
Whether such symptoms are attributed to transient illnesses or eye surface, disorders cannot be determined without due examinations at an eye clinic.
Leaving these symptoms untreated may unconsciously aggravate the symptoms, which in turn can cause complications of other eye diseases.
Early treatment and periodic clinical visits is the key to the cure
Dry eye is a disease caused by a quantitative or qualitative change in tears due to lifestyle-related factors or other diseases. Therefore, the simple replenishment of water with commercially available eye drops may sometimes be insufficient to prevent this disease. In addition, eye irrigation with tap water or commercially available eye drops may even worsen the symptoms.
If you have any concerns, do not hesitate to visit and consult with an ophthalmologist.
Flow of consultation and treatment at an eye clinic
What exams and treatments are performed at an eye clinic? Here is a flow from the consultation to the periodic visit.
What you are asked during the consultation
What symptoms, how long your symptoms have persisted, etc.
- Life environment and lifestyle
Lack of sleep, stress, use of air conditioners, use of contact lenses, physical fatigue, eye irrigation habits, etc.
- Behaviors causing reduced blinking frequency
Use of computers, television games, driving vehicles, reading, etc.
- Influence of other diseases and medications
Diseases such as Sjogren's syndrome, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, collagen disease, and rheumatism, some hypotensives and tranquilizers, etc.
Explanation of Dry Eye
The following tests are performed to diagnose dry eye:
- Visual test for ocular diseases
This is always performed as the first examination at an eye clinic. The visual aquity data from this test may help find dry eye and other kinds of eye diseases.
- Microscopic examination for the presence/absence and severity of eye injuries
This is an examination intended to examine injuries on the eye surface. When instilling fluorescein, a yellow to orange reagent, to the eye, any injuries in the cornea (pupil) are stained. Stained portions are examined for the presence/absence and severity of injuries using a slit lamp microscope.
- BUT test to evaluate the quality of tears
Even if a high volume of tears is secreted, the eye surface can soon become dry because of the poor quality of tears. To determine the quality of tears, break up time (BUl), the duration from eye opening to breakage of the tear film on the eye surface, is measured. If the BUT is short, dry eye is suspected.
- Schirmer's test to determine the volume of tears
This is a test to determine the volume of tears using a dedicated graduated test paper inserted into the end of the lower eyelid for 5 minutes. The volume of tears is measured as the length of the portion of the test paper moistened by tears. If the volume of tears is low, dry eye is suspected. To avoid the influence of tears secreted upon the stimulation of inserting the test paper, a modified Schirmer's test may be performed with the use of a topical anesthetic.
Prescriptions and medications
Specialized treatments are effective for dry eye. There are two major types: treatments with ophthalmic solutions/suspensions and treatment with lacrimal punctum closure.
- Treatments with ophthalmic solutions/suspensions
Ophthalmic solutions/suspensions are most commonly used for treating dry eye. They include artificial tears with a composition similar to that of natural tears, and therapeutics containing sodium hyaluronate for keratoconjunctival epithelial disorders. An eye drop which secretes the components of tears has also been available in some countries in Asia. This has recently been marketed and is used to treat dry eye. Ophthalmic solutions/suspensions should be used as directed by a physician or pharmacist.
- Treatment with punctal plugs
If the ophthalmic solutions/suspensions are ineffective, treatment via lacrimal punctum closure may be performed, in which the lacrimal punctum, the exit path for tears, is artificially closed to suppress tear outflow and allow a sufficient volume of tears to accumulate on the eye surface. A plug made of silicone or synthetic resin is inserted into the lacrimal punctum. Alternatively, the lacrimal punctum may be surgically closed with a suture.
Clinic visits and periodic check-ups
Even if your symptoms are resolved with eye drops and other medications prescribed at the eye clinic, never consider that your dry eye has been completely cured, you should still follow your ophthalmologist's instructions and visit the clinic as directed to maintain the good condition of your eyes.
Santen product approved and available in the Philippines
NOTE: Other Santen prescription medicines are available to treat dry eye, please consult with your physician.