Eye Watering and Excessive Tearing: Dry Eye
Oddly enough, if you are prone to excessive eye watering or tearing, you might actually have a condition called dry eye. Dry eye occurs when the eyes do not produce sufficient tears or the tears evaporate too quickly. There are two types of dry eye:
- Evaporative Dry Eye, accounting for 86% of all dry eye: caused by blockage to the eyelid glands (meibomian glands) which leads to a shortage of oil on the surface of the tears and quicker-than-normal tear evaporation
- Aqueous Dry Eye, accounting for 14% of all dry eye: occurs when the lacrimal glands do not produce enough tears
Dry eye can also be caused by Meibomian Gland Dysfunction (MGD) where the glands in your eyelids become inflamed or clogged, preventing the oily layer of your tears from properly lubricating your eyes.
Symptoms of Dry Eye
Tears are necessary to help lubricate, protect and nourish our eyes. Without a steady flow of tears, eye irritation will result.
- Light sensitivity
- Eye fatigue
- Blurry vision
Without proper treatment, inadequate tears can make daily activities frustrating, affecting your personal and professional life; activities like reading, watching TV, driving or working on the computer.
Dry Eye Evaluation
The best way to get relief from your dry eye symptoms is by having a professional assess your eye health. At Great Plains Eye Specialists, we utilize different methods to get to the root cause of your symptoms so we can recommend effective treatments:
- TearLab Osmolarity System®
- OCULUS Keratograph®
These tests assess the health of your tear film. Tears form a film over your eyes, important to keeping your eyes lubricated, hydrated and healthy. If you have poor quality tears or your eyes are not producing enough tears, this will lead to eye irritations and fluctuating vision.
TearLab Osmolarity System
This evaluation is done to measure the saltiness of your tears (osmolarity). If your tears have excess salt content, this could be damaging the surface cells of your eyes. Only a tiny sample of tear fluid is needed to diagnose your tear fluid. This is a very quick and painless process that is done right in our office. Your tears will be graded on an osmolarity scale: normal, mild, moderate or severe.
This evaluation is done to measure the quality and quantity of your tear film. The process takes less than 30 seconds and only requires you to look into a machine – we never have to touch your eye for this evaluation. The Keratograph will assess the health of your eyelid glands (meibomian glands) and the lipid (oily) layer of your tears.
Treatment for Dry Eye in Rapid City
For some patients, over-the-counter or prescription eye drops will provide relief for dry eye symptoms. However, if these are ineffective you may need to have an eye doctor assess your situation and determine the root cause of your dry eye. Knowing the reason for your dry eye symptoms is the only way to successfully treat this condition. Our dry eye specialists may recommend:
- Punctal plugs to prevent tear drainage from the eyes
- RESTASIS® eye drops to increase tear production
- Xiidra® to treat eye inflammation
- BlephEx to treat blepharitis, a chronic, inflammatory eyelid condition
Sometimes it is necessary to close the ducts that drain tears out of the eyes in order to treat symptoms of dry eye. These tiny plugs can be inserted to achieve better lubrication of the eyes.
- Temporary punctal occlusion: Temporary plugs can be inserted into the tear drain of the lower eyelid to determine if this helps provide adequate tears. These plugs can be removable or dissolvable within a few days to a few months.
- Permanent punctal occlusion: If the temporary plugs work well, our doctors may suggest permanent (yet removable) plugs. The goal is to provide adequate tears/lubrication, improve patient comfort and reduce the need for artificial tears. In rare cases the plugs may come out spontaneously or migrate down the tear drain.
Our doctors will measure your tear duct size to determine the right size and type of punctal plug to achieve the best results.
When your eyes are unable to produce sufficient tears, you have a condition called Aqueous Dry Eye. This can become a chronic condition which causes great discomfort due to lack of lubrication and protection, making daily activities difficult.
We offer RESTASIS® Ophthalmic Emulsion to treat the ongoing symptoms of chronic dry eye. These twice-daily prescription eye drops help increase your eye’s natural ability to produce tears. It may take up to 6 months for the product to take full effect; however, relief can begin after one month.
RESTASIS drops are different from artificial tears that can be purchased over-the-counter. Those types of products simply provide temporary relief. RESTASIS is a longer-lasting, more effective solution and can be obtained by prescription only. Insurance coverage varies.
Some dry eye symptoms are caused by inflammation of your eye surface. We are proud to offer patients Xiidra prescription eye drops to provide relief. We recommend patients use these drops twice a day in the morning and evening, about 12 hours apart.
Blepharitis is a chronic, inflammatory eyelid condition that is the result of a bacterial infection, often causing the small oil glands near the eyelashes to become clogged. This condition is not contagious, but people who have blepharitis often have very uncomfortable, visible symptoms due to the overgrowth of bacteria along the eyelashes.
Symptoms of Blepharitis
- Watery, red, itchy eyes
- Burning, gritty sensation
- Swollen eyelids
- Eyelash crustiness in the morning
- Greasy-looking eyelids
- Eyelashes falling out or growing abnormally
These symptoms can be minimized by using medications and cleaning the eyelids. However, it is not easy to keep the eyelids and lashes clean – especially if debris has become trapped.
We are proud to offer patients BlephEx treatments to precisely and safely clean and exfoliate the eyelids and lashes while also reducing the risk for damage to the tear glands. This is the first and only clinician treatment for blepharitis.
How BlephEx Works
This is a painless, 8-minute procedure that is performed right in our office. The BlephEx tool is comprised of a spinning micro-sponge that is moved along the edge of your eyelashes and eyelids to remove debris and exfoliate the areas. A different sterile micro-sponge is use for each eye to reduce the spread of bacteria. Many patients experience immediate relief. For maximum results, the procedure should be repeated every 4-6 months.
Cleaning at Home
After your BlephEx procedure, we will give you instructions on how to keep your eyelids clean at home. Nightly hygiene will be integral in maintaining your results.