Whether it happens once in a while or is something you have to deal with every day, dry eye is a (literal) pain. Unfortunately, it’s something a lot of women start to experience after 50. From mild discomfort to a feeling of constant stinging, dry eye syndrome is nothing to bat an eye at. The good news is, dry eye surgery is now an option you can take to get some relief.
If you’ve tried non-surgical remedies to little effect, dry eye surgery may ultimately be your best bet. Today we’ll walk you through the different surgical treatments you may encounter, as well as throw in a few things to consider along the way.
What causes dry eyes?
Our tears are what keep our eyes hydrated and healthy. In fact, our eyes produce tears constantly – not just when This is Us is on. It’s this clear tear film made up of oil, water, and mucus that allows our eyes to see clearly throughout the day. However, dry eye can happen when that tear mixture gets impaired, or when our tear ducts don’t produce enough of it.
While these issues can happen for a variety of reasons (lupus, diabetes, rosacea, etc.), they can also be a product of the aging process. After 40, our tear production naturally begins to decrease, which can lead to inflammation and irritation. Generally speaking, women are more likely to develop these symptoms than men, especially after all of the hormonal changes that come along with menopause.
It’s also important to consider that dry eye syndrome can be exaggerated by other factors. Environmental air quality, smoke, and time spent in front of a screen can all create or worsen dry eye symptoms. This is definitely something to consider now that we’re spending more time on our phones and computers than ever before.
For some, dry eyes can be remedied with non-surgical treatments like drops or supplements. However, if you’re not finding the relief you’re looking for, it’s good to know you have a variety of surgical options to consider.
Types of dry eye surgery
The great thing about most eye surgeries is that they’re minimally invasive and typically very quick. When it comes to solving dry eyes, there are a few different routes your ophthalmologist might guide you toward.
One of the most trendy eye surgeries in recent years, LASIK utilizes lasers to help correct peoples’ vision. According to the American Refractive Surgery Council, 60% of LASIK patients who reported dry eye symptoms prior to undergoing the surgery reported relief afterward.
It’s important to keep in mind that many patients actually experience dry eyes during the healing period, and may be prescribed drops to keep things in check. I guess sometimes things have to get a little worse before they get better.
Another common type of dry eye surgery is punctal plug insertion. These are little barriers placed in your tear duct that blocks tears from draining away from your eyes. The great thing about this procedure is that it’s non-invasive and requires zero downtime.
There are two types of plugs your eye doctor might recommend:
- Temporary: Temporary plugs are normally made from collagen. These dissolve within a month or so, and are a great way to test out this option in the short-term.
- Semi-permanent: These punctal plugs are made from silicone, and are made to last for many years. If you need to take them out though, they can be easily removed by a doctor.
This minimally invasive surgery uses heat to actually close your tear ducts and prevent further moisture loss. If you try punctal plugs and they don’t work, this is likely the next solution your doctor will recommend.
Unlike LASIK, this procedure only takes a few minutes and doesn’t require much downtime. What’s more, the cauterization itself can be permanent or semi-permanent – in case they need to be re-opened in the future.
The good news is if other treatments haven’t worked, dry eye surgery often does the trick. And unlike other similar surgeries, you won’t have to waste a bunch of time recovering.
Dry eye surgery alternatives
If you’re still on the fence about dry eye surgery, there are still plenty of non-surgical methods you can use to relieve discomfort. Along with typical eye drops and prescription treatments, there are a couple of other remedies you might want to check out:
- Caffeine: Turns out your morning cup of joe might actually help dry eye. According to several studies, there may be a correlation between caffeine consumption and dry eye management.
- Omega-3 supplements: While supplements can’t fix severe symptoms, taking a fish oil or flaxseed supplement has been shown to help. Definitely worth a try!
Looking for other ways to keep your eyes looking youthful and healthy? Try this one super-ingredient.