Dry Eye Institute

Why your eye drops don’t work:

Do your eyes constantly burn, feel gritty, itchy or watery? Is this worse in the morning, or at night? Are you using your artificial tears with the gusto of a professional eater tackling hotdogs to no avail?  So why are the drops that claim to do everything not addressing your symptoms?

Unfortunately as much as we want to pin all hope on an eye drop being the holy grail of relief this just is not the case.  In most circumstances a drop can mask the underlying cause of why you are having certain ocular symptoms.

The most common cause behind dry eye problems involves the top lipid layer of persons tear film. This is an excellent example of how drops can mask an underlying potentially more severe problem.  In todays society there are many reasons why this lipid layer does not function to its highest level. A few key reasons are: poor blinking with increased technology as well as an improper blinking, rosacea associated ocular inflammation, poor lid and eyelash hygiene and certain medications. Because the underlying cause involves the lipid gland themselves, we need to be targeting specific treatment at improving the lipid expression. Using artificial tears will only mask the underlying symptoms. Hence, it is common for people to present rather late for treatment of the actual issue. If we think of these lipid glands as a muscle needing to be exercised we begin to understand the importance of ensuring they are functioning as intended.

Certain individuals also suffer from a decreased secretion of the thick middle watery layer (aqueous layer). Sure using artificial tears will increase the amount of tears on the eye, however, it is not targeting the underlying reason for the hypo- secretion. For example, low androgen/testosterone levels, autoimmune conditions such as Rheumatoid arthritis, even a decreased tear feedback mechanism following  lasik surgery . With adequate testing we can detect and improve the secretion from this gland (lacrimal gland) and hopefully reduce your dependence on drops.

A similar scenario occurs with ocular allergies. Many individuals struggle at certain times of the year with what they assume is dry eye and continue to abuse the artificial tear drops. Allergies can cause a range of symptoms from itchiness and swelling to your typical burning, red, irritated symptoms  typical of a dry eye case. Your standard eye drop does not contain the necessary ingredients to target the underlying allergy reaction.

Essentially your eye specialist is required to identify the layer of the tear film that is of concern and target treatment appropriately. Certain ocular conditions can cause chronic damage to the fine structures that produce our tear film. The aim of an eye examination  is to identify and slow any progression of dry eye disease, preventing future deterioration and irreversible damage.

Want to discuss your symptoms or book a comprehensive dry eye assessment?