Dry Eye

Dry eye disease can cause itchy, burning, and watery eyes that are sensitive to light. It must be addressed before eye surgery can be performed, but the good news is, it’s very treatable.

What Is Dry Eye?

You need tears to constantly lubricate your eyes. Without them, the health of your eyes and ultimately the quality of your vision can be affected. Dry Eye Disease is a condition that affects either the quantity of your tears or their quality.

When your eyes don’t make enough tears (also called aqueous-deficient dry eye), you may, among other symptoms, feel as though you have sand in your eyes and have trouble wearing contact lenses.

When the quality of your tears is compromised, they dry too quickly before they can nourish and moisturize your eye. This is caused by an imbalance in the make-up of your tears and your tear film.

The Importance of a Healthy Tear Film

Each time you blink, a film of tears is left behind. Known as the tear film, this keeps your eye lubricated and protects it from irritants.

Tears are made of three layers: oily, watery, and mucus. When the three layers of your tear film aren’t in balance, your tears will evaporate too quickly, causing the uncomfortable symptoms of dry eye.

Causes of Dry Eye

Dry eye is a chronic, progressive disease caused by many factors. Common risk factors include:

  • Increasing age
  • Gender (DED is more common in women)
  • Digital device use
  • Medications
  • Contact lens wear
  • Environment
  • Systemic health conditions
  • Ocular surgery

As part of most consultation appointments at Vance Thompson Vision, you will be tested for dry eye disease. If you have it, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you.

Treating Dry Eye

A healthy tear film is important for good surgical outcomes, and because it is, we offer several ways to treat dry eye disease prior to your cataract, LASIK, or cornea surgery. Our doctors will customize a treatment plan for your specific situation.

Dry eye treatment is based on how severe your case is and what’s causing it. For mild cases, patients may find relief from warm compresses and preservative free artificial tears sold over the counter. For more severe cases, your doctor may prescribe prescription-strength drops, thermal heat treatments, or light therapy. There are also options that can be performed in tandem with your surgery such as tear duct plugs.

Dry Eye Research

Research is integral to Vance Thompson Vision’s mission of creating vision. Our research department has been involved in more than 100 FDA-monitored clinical trials, most of which have gained FDA approval.

We carefully choose the studies we participate in, selecting those which best align with our mission and our patients’ needs. Research provides access to the technologies of tomorrow.

One of the most exciting areas of research involves dry eye disease. Read more about our work advancing treatment for dry eye and in other areas.

Research at VTV

Dry Eye Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get rid of dry eye?

Treatment is based on how severe your case is and what’s causing it, so our doctors customize your treatment plan to fit your individual needs. The most common treatments are a warm compress and drops that come in over-the-counter and prescription options. Depending on the case, we may also recommend tear duct plugs, thermal heat treatments, or light therapy.

As part of our pre-surgery consultations, we will assess you for dry eye disease. If you have it, we’ll treat it before proceeding with surgery.

Is dry eye serious?

Usually, dry eye disease is very treatable. However, when it’s chronic and left untreated, over time it can cause damage to the cornea, and in severe cases, leads to vision loss.

What are the main causes of dry eye?

The two main causes of dry eye disease are inadequate tear production and poor tear quality. Tear production can be affected by age, the environment, certain medications, digital device use, contact lens wear, ongoing health conditions, and previous eye surgery.

Tears are made of water, oil, and mucus. Each must be present and in balance to produce tears that effectively nourish the eye and don’t evaporate too quickly.

Does dry eye go away?

Dry eye caused by changes in seasons, environmental factors, or medication may go away on its own. Chronic dry eye, however, usually requires treatment and symptoms may never completely go away.

Can dry eye be treated?

Yes, dry eye disease is very treatable. Vance Thompson Vision offers a few methods for addressing dry eye and tests for it prior to most procedures to ensure that your corneas are in good health before proceeding with surgery.

Can dry eye make you blind?

In severe cases, when left untreated, dry eye disease can cause vision loss.