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Can Surgery Help Chronic Dry Eye?

If you have persistent, severe dry eye problems, you already have experience with how uncomfortable the condition can be. Eye drops may offer temporary relief, but symptoms like burning, redness, heaviness, sensitivity to light, and feeling as if there’s something in your eyes continue to plague you and make it hard for you to focus at work. 

Experienced Austin oculoplastic surgeon Dr. Malena Amato offers surgical remedies for chronic dry eye, which can help improve the quality of life for anyone living with this unpleasant issue. How do dry eyes develop, what does dry eye surgery entail, and could you be a good candidate?

What Causes Dry Eyes?

Normal, healthy eyes have a layer of tears bathing their surface, keeping the environment consistently moist, as well as washing away any debris that could lead to an eye infection. This tear film consists of three layers: water, oil, and mucus. Dry eye syndrome occurs when the balance of these three parts becomes imbalanced, causing the eyes to fail to produce an appropriate level of lubrication. 

There are several reasons you might have developed dry eyes, including the following.

  • Screen time: If you have an office job that requires you to look at a computer screen for most of the day, that can compound your dry eye problems, because people tend to blink less when working on a computer – a phenomenon known as “computer vision syndrome.” 
  • Contact lens use: Though it’s unclear precisely why wearing contact lenses can lead to dry eyes, one prevailing theory is that contact lenses can disrupt the function of the tear film and may cause it to thin out. Dry eye discomfort is a leading reason contact lens wearers switch back to glasses.
  • Specific medications: Some medicines, including allergy drugs, diuretics, birth control, and beta-blockers, can lead to dry eye.
  • Your diet: If you fail to eat a diet rich in anti-inflammatory foods and omega-3 fatty acids, you can compromise your eye health. 
  • Health conditions: Dry eye syndrome is a side effect of some illnesses such as arthritis and diabetes. 
  • Smoking: Dry eyes are among the many health conditions linked to cigarette smoking.

A thorough examination of your eyes by a doctor can determine the extent and severity of your dry eye syndrome and help you decide whether to get treatment for this condition.

Dry Eyes and Tearing

As counterintuitive as it may sound, watery eyes can also be a symptom of dry eye syndrome.

This tearing occurs because the eyes will sometimes respond to the dryness by overstimulating production of tears to protect themselves. However, this so-called “reflex tearing” does not stay on the eyes’ surface long enough to correct the underlying dry eye condition.

Having your tear ducts surgically closed is one long-term solution for dry eyes. The goal of having this surgery is to prevent your tears from being able to leave your eyes too quickly. 

Dr. Amato offers various in-office, outpatient procedures for dry eye sufferers. These options, performed while you are under general anesthesia, last about an hour and can partially or completely close your tear ducts.    

Learn More About Dry Eye Surgery in Austin

People suffering from severe, chronic dry eyes have options for improving their eye health. If you are considering dry eye surgery, Dr. Amato can use her expertise as a board-certified surgeon with extensive training in ophthalmology to help you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and learn more.