Raise your hand if you’ve ever experienced dry eye. It’s likely that most of you who are reading this have either personally experienced or know someone who deals with this uncomfortable condition. While dry eye is a condition that many people experience on a daily basis, it is also a common symptom for those who are living with keratoconus.
Dry eye occurs when the eye doesn’t produce enough tears or when the tears can’t keep the surface of the eye adequately lubricated. Notably, 23 million adults in the United States report having symptoms of dry eye.
Several factors can result in dry eye. Health conditions, such as Sjogren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, and collagen vascular diseases, can affect your eyes’ ability to make tears. In addition, environmental triggers, like pollution or the weather, can play a role. Furthermore, dry eye can be caused by some prescription medications or intensified by computer or contact lens use.
While people may experience different symptoms, the most common symptom is a scratchy sensation or the feeling that something is in your eye. Other symptoms may include stinging or burning, excess tearing that follows dryness periods, discharge, pain, and redness in the eye, in addition to the feeling of heavy eyelids and blurred vision.
For those dealing with occasional or mild symptoms, making simple life changes or using over the counter treatments may help. However, if you attempt to treat your eyes and they continue to remain red or irritated, reach out to your optometrist or a specialist for help. The Dry Eye Zone is a great resource to learn more about the condition and ways to treat it. Depending on the severity and cause of a person’s dry eye, the following treatment options can be considered:
- Antibiotic to reduce eyelid inflammation
- Eyedrops to control cornea inflammation: May be controlled with prescription eye drops that contain cyclosporine
- Eye inserts that work like artificial tears: Tiny inserts dissolve slowly, releasing an eye lubricant
- Tear-stimulating drugs: Available as pills, gel or eye drops
- Tear-stimulating devices: A new device inserted in the nose stimulates a nerve to produce tears
- Eyedrops made from your own blood: Called autologous blood serum drops
- Closing your tear ducts: A tiny silicone plug to reduce tear loss
- Unblocking oil glands: Using light therapy or eyelid massage
- Treating an eyelid condition with surgery: Ectropion, a condition that turns lids outward, preventing the lid from closing completely
For people who are living with keratoconus, like Steven, the combination of contact lenses and hay fever or other allergies can also cause dryness of the eye. Below are some of the ways that members of the Living with KC community are managing their dry eye:
- “Patience. Lots of patience.”
- “Tear drops”
- “Restasis® and my scleral contact lenses”
- “Use eye drop (Pataday™) or drop the artificial tears”
- “Blood based eyedrops”
- “Restasis®, Systane® rewetting drops, possible plugs?”
- “Refresh Optive®!!!”
- “Rewetting drops”
- “Lubricating eye drops”
To hear more personal experiences with keratoconus and how people are managing issues such as dry eye, visit our KC Journeys page.