Dry eyes can be a real pain in the eye! You might feel your eyes are dry, irritated, red, blurry vision that comes and goes, stinging or burning, like something’s in your eyes, or like sandpaper as you blink, among others.
In our clinic, Advanced Vision Care and Dry Eye Spa in Tucson, Arizona, our dry eye program for the fastest relief possible includes a combination of the following take-home treatments:
Fish Oil Complex
Improves the quality of oils our meibomian glands produce, which keeps the eyes hydrated. My choice is “E-Z Tears” Omega 3 from Eye Promise because it provides naturally sourced, high quality factors such as evening primrose oil, turmeric root extract, green tea leaf extract which reduce inflammation of the glands. Alternatively, Retaine flax seed oil has also been shown to provide a similar effect.
Preservative-Free Artificial Tears
The key is to use a drop that is preservative-free. Preservatives are chemicals that can actually irritate the surface of the eye after the liquid drop evaporates. I always recommend Oasis tears because they provide lubrication to maintain a healthy eye surface and alleviate dry eye symptoms. There are two types: Oasis Tears or Oasis Tears PLUS individual vials which are good for 24 hours, or a preservative-free bottle which is specially designed so no air gets into the bottle, keeping them sterile. The vials come in two versions: regular and “plus”, which are just thicker and last longer for more effective relief; however, they may cause a bit of “oily” vision for a few minutes.
Applying heat over closed eyes aids in opening the eyelid pores so the hardened oil from your meibomian glands can make its way out. Using a face cloth with hot water can work but it cools off after just 2 or 3 minutes and needs to be reheated. Our program includes an Oasis heat mask that you heat in the microwave for 20 seconds and it delivers moist heat for up to 15 minutes.
These remove debris and oils released from clogged eyelid glands and as well as unwanted bacteria or hardened makeup around the eye lashes and skin. The I-lid & lash wipes by Quidel are available in regular Lid&Lash and Lid&Lash tea tree oil (a natural antimicrobial). Scrub eyelashes side to side with your finger over closed eyes using gentle pressure for 5 seconds each. Use morning and night.
Eyelid Foam or Gel
Instead of using harsh soaps or body wash which can contain chemicals that irritate eyelids (the thinnest skin in the body), eyelid foams are gentle on eyelid skin and formulated to dissolve hardened oil build-up on your eyelashes and reduce bacterial overgrowth. Among those we prescribe are Zocular’s zocufoam, Ocusoft’s platinum plus foam, and Demodex foam. To use in conjunction with lid wipes by applying to the lid wipe or directly to your eyelids.
Hypochlorous gel or spray
Hypochlorous acid is an organic substance found in the body's neutrophil cells. It is an antimicrobial agent, and neutralizes bacteria, toxins, and inflammatory mediators in the body. It also works to prevent biofilm formation as well as deactivate problematic enzymes. I recommend ZocuShield™ Syringe gel or Oasis Tears Hypochlorus spray, which may be applied to a lid wipe or index finger to spread across your lashes and leave it on or rinse.
Home therapies are a key part of the success of a dry eye treatment plan, so you have to do your part for it to work well. You may feel better right away, or it may take a couple months to get noticable and lasting relief. Be persistent and follow through, and it will pay off.