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Dry Eyes: More Complex Than You Think!

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

“Doc, just tell me what eyedrops to use for my dry eyes.”

Have you ever asked that question and been told “Just use ‘these’ eyedrops”? Dry eyes (or poor quality tear film) actually have more causes and treatments than you ever dreamt. Since one treatment does not work for all patients, it can feel like the kitchen sink is being thrown at you (or at least your eyes). Peruse the eye drop section of the pharmacy: seemingly hundreds of types of drops exist, all claiming to help. Please don’t grab the cheapest or the one to “get the red out”. Trust me when I say poor quality tear film is complex and cannot be cured; more is involved than just using ‘these’ eyedrops.

What’s that? My eyes feel fine, you say? Yes, you can have poor quality tear film even if your eyes feel fine. Does your vision get blurry after you blink? How do your eyes feel after you’ve been staring at the computer at work? Do windy days make your eyes water? Are your contacts uncomfortable? These are just a few symptoms of dry eyes.

The oily top layer of your tears is produced by oil glands within your upper and lower eyelids. The oil should be clear and naturally expressed onto the eye as you blink. If the glands get sick and die, not enough oil will stay on the surface of the tears, allowing them to evaporate quickly. Poor oil film is the leading cause of dry eye. Right now, hold your eyes open for as long as you can…….do you feel that stinging or ice pick-poking sensation on them? That occurs when the tears evaporate, letting air hit the surface of your eyes. Typically the shorter you can hold out before you have to blink and wash a new layer of tears over the surface, the more evaporation is taking place thus the abysmal quality of those oil glands.

A meibographer can take pictures of your glands to help us figure out a treatment plan for you. Schedule a medical eye visit (dry eye discussions and treatment recommendations are not covered under standard vision plans so the visit is billed to medical insurance) to allow time to be devoted to look for causes and learn about relief.

One short article is nowhere near enough room to dive deeply into the causes and treatments of poor quality tear film. Please call or email me with any questions, as always. and schedule your eye exam if you haven’t yet, lol.

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