Dry eye syndrome is a common eye condition when the tears evaporate too quickly or the eyes do not produce enough tears. The latest treatments include new prescription eye drops and intense pulsed light therapy.
Tears are essential for maintaining the health and comfort of the eyes. They provide moisture, nourishment, and protection to the ocular surface.
This article discusses the latest treatment options for dry eye syndrome.
There is no cure for dry eye syndrome, but treatment can alleviate symptoms.
Prescription eye drops
In May 2023, the
Healthcare professionals have safely prescribed topical cyclosporine eye drops for the past 20 years, starting with the product Restasis.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, the pharmaceutical company Novaliq is testing new cyclosporine-based anti-inflammatory treatments for dry eye.
Cyclosporine is believed to help manage dry eye symptoms by suppressing the immune response and reducing inflammation.
By addressing the underlying inflammation, it can promote a healthier ocular surface and more stable tear film. This ultimately alleviates dryness, irritation, and discomfort.
Intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy
IPL therapy uses pulses of broad-spectrum light to target and heat the blood vessels around the eyes, primarily on the lower eyelids.
The goal is to reduce inflammation, improve blood flow, and encourage proper function of the meibomian glands. These glands are crucial in producing the oily layer of tears.
The heat generated during IPL therapy can help soften the hardened oil within the glands, allowing it to flow more freely and stabilize the tear film.
The first-line treatment for dry eye syndrome
The specific treatment plan can vary based on the severity and underlying causes of the condition. People can consult an eye care professional for personalized recommendations.
These drops provide extra moisture to the eyes and help alleviate discomfort. Different formulations are available, including preservative-free options for people who need to use the drops frequently.
Long-acting methylcellulose inserts (Lacrisert) and bedtime lubricating ointment can help provide lasting comfort.
People can try lifestyle modifications to see whether they help their dry eye syndrome, such as:
- Hydration: Staying well hydrated by drinking sufficient water can help maintain moisture throughout the body, including the eyes.
- Blinking exercises: Consciously blinking more often can help spread tears evenly across the eye’s surface. Doctors may advise people to take regular breaks from screens to blink regularly.
- Proper eyelid hygiene: Cleaning the eyelids and lashes regularly can help prevent inflammation and improve tear quality.
- Diet: A balanced diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, C, and E, and antioxidants can contribute to overall eye health.
If conservative treatments are not effective, doctors may recommend other treatments.
Punctal plug surgery is a minimally invasive procedure where an eye doctor inserts small plugs, called punctal plugs, into the tear drainage ducts at the inner corners of the upper and lower eyelids.
The plugs slow the drainage of tears from the eyes, allowing tears to stay on the ocular surface longer and alleviating dryness.
However, this is very uncommon. Surgery is typically only recommended if all other treatments have been ineffective and the issue is fixable, such as the eyelids being too loose.
Some home care options for dry eye syndrome include:
- Warm compresses: Applying a warm, damp cloth over closed eyelids can help soften and melt any blockages in the oil glands along the eyelid margins. This can improve the quality of tears and alleviate dryness.
- Humidifier: Using a humidifier in a person’s living or work space can help maintain a more comfortable humidity level, preventing excessive evaporation of tears.
- Avoid smoke and wind: Smoke and wind can exacerbate dry eye symptoms. Whenever possible, people can avoid situations where they are exposed to these conditions.
- Positioning: When reading or working on a computer, people can position the screen or book slightly below eye level to encourage more complete blinking.
- Limit screen time: Excessive screen time can lead to decreased blinking and increased evaporation of tears.
The cost of dry eye treatment varies depending on what treatment a person needs. For example, basic OTC treatments, such as artificial tears and lubricating eye drops, are relatively affordable.
Prescription eye drops can be more expensive. Prices can vary. Insurance may not always fully cover these medications.
Some insurance plans may cover a portion of the cost of prescription medications or certain procedures if they are deemed medically necessary.
Treatments for dry eye syndrome vary depending on the severity and underlying causes of the condition. They include OTC artificial tears, prescription eye drops targeting inflammation and tear production, and lifestyle adjustments.
More advanced options involve minimally invasive procedures, such as punctal plugs to slow tear drainage, and in-office treatments, such as intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy for inflammation reduction.
Researchers are constantly looking for new treatment options for dry eye syndrome.