Dry eye is a disease in which the layer of tears that protects the eye is altered and as a consequence more or less severe lesions are produced in the conjunctiva and cornea that can affect vision.
It is estimated that in Spain more than five million people suffer from dry eye syndrome, and it is likely that you have ever suffered from its annoying symptoms: stinging, tearing, redness and even pain.
This dryness is caused by an alteration of the ocular surface as a result of a lack of tears or poor tear quality. It is common for this pathology to become more pronounced as we get older, but also factors such as tobacco, pollution, air conditioning, wind, medication or, of course, long daily exposure to cell phone and computer screens can cause it to appear.
What types of dry eye are there?
There are several types of dry eye:
- Hyposecretory (fewer tears are produced than needed).
- Evaporative (there are tears but they do not last long on the eye.
- Neurotrophic (the nerves in charge of giving the order to produce tears do not work properly).
Dr. Carmelina Brito, ophthalmologist and Director of the Brito Muguerza Ophthalmology Center, points out that there are many environmental, hormonal factors or ocular or general diseases that can cause different types of dry eye and the conventional treatment consists of administering moisturizing drops (“artificial tears”) to replace the missing tears.
Advances in treatment
Although dry eye itself cannot be cured, it can be treated easily. Currently, treatments for dry eye are aimed at specifically treating each type of dry eye, the most common being:
- Specific drops: there is a new generation of moisturizing drops with hyaluronic acid, preservative-free and phosphate-free, with several different compositions aimed at treating each case more specifically.
- Autologous plasma: these are drops prepared from the patient’s blood serum. The concentration of growth factors makes it possible to repair small lesions on the surface of a dry eye.
- Tear Plugs: These are tiny plugs inserted in the tear ducts to prevent tears from flowing into the nostrils, retaining them in the eye for as long as possible. It is a painless, non-invasive procedure, performed in the office and is reversible.
- Eyelid microabrasion (Blephex): Excessive flaking of the skin on the edge of the eyelids can clog the meibomian glands, which are essential in the production of lipids in tears. Microabrasion opens and reactivates these glands improving tear composition.
- Pulsed light (IPL): Pulsed light stimulates blood circulation in the meibomian glands improving tear production.
- Nutritional supplements: A massive intake of fatty acids in capsules improves tear composition.
- Combination of moisturizers and anti-inflammatories: When dry eye causes inflammation of ocular tissues, combined drops simplify treatments.
The new treatments are more specific for each type of dry eye, resulting in faster symptom reduction, less dependence on drops and long-lasting treatment effects, thus increasing patient comfort.