Dry Eye Syndrome
As a fellowship-trained cornea specialist, Dr. Barnhorst is on the leading edge of dry eye treatment. While doing his cornea fellowship training at the Eye and Ear Institute at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Barnhorst worked with Dr. Gary Foulkes, one of the country’s leading dry eye experts.
Dry Eye Syndrome is a condition that occurs when 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 do not produce enough tears or have a poor quality of tears. Tears are made up of three components: oil, water and mucus. If tears are evaporating too quickly off the surface of the eye due to a deficiency in any of these components, dry eye symptoms can occur. Treatment for dry eyes can range from artificial tears, to supplements such as fish oil or flax seed, to medications such as Restasis® or even moisture chamber goggles. Closing the tear drainage ducts by placement of puntal plugs made of either collagen or synthetic materials can also be very helpful in certain situations.
What are the causes of dry eyes?
There are many causes for dry eyes. Exposure to wind, or dry climate can increase tear evaporation. Persons with certain health conditions such as diabetes, thyroid problems and forms of arthritis are more likely to suffer from dry eyes. As well, medications for blood pressure, depression and allergies can reduce the amount of tear production. Abuse or over wear of contact lenses is also a cause associated with dry eye. Women are more likely to develop dry eyes due to hormonal changes. Dry eye is also a part of the aging process and several people over the age of 65 experience symptoms of dry eye.
How do you treat dry eyes?
Typically, the first choice of treatment for dry eyes is artificial tears at intervals throughout the day. There are many different brands and types of dry eyes available over the counter. Some are more viscous (thicker or gel like) than others and can cause a short term blurring of vision right after they are instilled. Some contain mild preservatives, while others are preservative-free. Dr. Barnhorst or Dr. Balo can make some recommendations that suit your level of dryness.
Herbal supplements have also proven to provide relief for dry eyes in some people. Fish oils, flaxseed oil and other Omega-3s promote overall ocular health. Research has shown that eating a diet high in the essential fatty acids, EPA, DHA and GLA can substantially reduce inflammation throughout the body and help to maintain flexibility in the ocular membrane.
Restasis is a prescription eye drop that may be prescribed to use twice daily to treat dry eyes. Restasis is designed to help increase your eye’s natural ability to produce tears in cases where it may be reduced due to inflammation from chronic dry eyes. Restasis is not the solution for everyone with dry eyes. Dr. Barnhorst or Dr. Balo can determine if it is right for you. For more information visit www.restasis.com.
Keeping the natural tears on the surface of the eye longer is another approach to treating dry eyes. Small silicone plugs can be placed in the puncta (drainage canals) to prevent tears from draining from the eyes. These plugs can be removed if necessary. There is also a surgical procedure to permanently close the puncta.
As dry eye specialists, Dr. Barnhorst or Dr. Balo spend time with their dry eye patients and carefully examine each patient’s particular ocular surface to determine the nature of their dry eye problem and how to treat it most effectively.
Whatever the cause, Dr. Barnhorst or Dr. Balo will work with you to get relief for your dry eye problem.
ProOmega: Omega-3 for Dry Eyes
Nordic Naturals Omega-3 provides an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids in their naturally existing ratios. Omega-3 fatty acids are needed daily, and must be obtained from our diet. Nordic Naturals Omega-3 is a great-tasting, fresh, and pure source of omega-3s and vitamin E. Omega-3s support proper cellular flexibility and cardiovascular health.
Did You Know? Omega-3s (EPA+DHA) from purified fish oil:
- Supports the body’s natural anti-inflammatory response to promote healthy eyes
- Relieves eye redness, dryness, pain, and inflammation
- Supports tear duct production and optimal tissue moisture
- Helps maturation of visual system and visual acuity of infant during pregnancy
- Is natural and safe for long-term use
- 2200mg EPA+DHA per 4 soft gels
Any of the Barnhorst Eye Associate staff will be able to assist you with purchasing ProOmega-3 supplements.