Blog Hero

Can an Optometrist Treat Dry Eye?

Book Appointment
A person being assisted by an eye doctor to apply eye drops on his left eye.

If you constantly experience stinging and burning sensations in your eyes, it’s probably dry eye. While eye drops and warm compresses can help find temporary relief, dry eye is often chronic and tends to come back. Many people in this situation wonder about long-term solutions for dry eyes

There’s good news—you can find relief with a quick visit to your optometrist. They can recommend at-home treatment for temporary relief, like through artificial tears or Bruder masks. In many cases, after using the Firefly slit lamp imaging system to analyze your eyes, they can recommend an in-office solution like IPL or TempSure to help you find long-lasting relief from your dry eyes.

What Causes Dry Eyes?

Your eyes are a complex part of your body and are solely responsible for your ability to see the world around you. They have plenty of small parts, each with their individual purpose, that create this system. A critical part of this system is your tear film.

Your tears are spread evenly across the surface of your eye every time you blink. They help flush away contaminants like bacteria or debris, allowing you to see clearly without irritation. These tears are made up of 3 layers:

  • The mucus layer
  • The aqueous layer
  • The oily layer

This final layer is created in the meibomian glands, the dozens of tiny glands running throughout your eyelid. These glands secrete oils called meibum that help prevent tears from evaporating too quickly.

Your tears rely heavily on a balance of these layers. When this balance is disrupted, your tears start struggling to do their job properly; either not enough tears are produced, or the tears being produced evaporate too quickly. This is dry eye.

How to Tell if You Have Dry Eyes

A close-up of bloodshot eyes.

When the balance of your tear film is disrupted, you’ll likely notice irritation and inflammation quickly. These sensations are like your eyes crying for help—they’re exposed to the air without protection and easily irritated.

When you’re experiencing dry eye, you’ll likely experience:

  • A stinging, burning, or scratchy sensation
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Eye redness
  • A sensation of a foreign body
  • Blurred vision
  • Difficulty driving at night

If these symptoms sound familiar, it’s likely dry eye.

Why Does Dry Eye Develop?

So, what causes this disruption with the tear film? While it can sometimes be as simple as environmental factors, like a too-dry room or exposure to constant wind, it’s often a little more complicated.

Dry eye can be caused by:

  • Natural age-related changes in the eye
  • Hormonal changes, especially during or after menopause
  • Medical conditions like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Antihistamines, antidepressants, and other medications

Almost any factor that affects your eyes could contribute to dry eye development. So, if you recognize any dry eye symptoms, it’s time to see your optometrist for a comprehensive eye exam.

Is Dry Eye Treatable?

Dry eye therapy is about more than just finding relief from temporary discomfort. When you live with dry eyes, you can’t easily remove contaminants from the eye. This leads to an increased risk of eye infections, damage, and more. That’s just one reason why treatment should be prioritized; it may help preserve your vision and eye health in the long run.

Fortunately, it all starts with a visit to your optometrist to discuss dry eye therapy. Your optometrist can thoroughly examine your eyes using the Firefly slit lamp imaging system to determine what may be disrupting your tear film. Then, they can recommend an appropriate treatment, like:

  • Eye drops
  • Bruder masks
  • Intense pulsed light (IPL)
  • TempSure ENVI

Eye Drops & Masks

Sometimes, quick relief is enough to help stave off dry eye symptoms. If this sounds ideal, talk to your optometrist about eye drops and eye masks.

Eye drops are excellent for quickly relieving dry eyes. They typically only take a few seconds to insert and quickly begin supplementing natural tear production. This can help protect your eyes and stimulate them to produce more tears.

Meanwhile, warm compresses like a Bruder mask can help stimulate the area around the eyes. This encourages a proper flow of oils to your tear film, helping promote healthy tear production.

IPL for Dry Eye

If you’re looking for a long-term solution, intense pulsed light (IPL) may be the way to go. It’s an innovative and noninvasive approach to treating dry eyes.

With IPL, gentle amounts of light-based heat are carefully applied to the area around the eyes. This helps break up hardened oils near the meibomian glands, allowing them to flow freely to the tear film. IPL is a quick process that only takes a few minutes per eye and often leads to almost instantaneous relief.

TempSure ENVI for Dry Eye

TempSure ENVI is another noninvasive approach to treating dry eyes. This features a gentle massage with mild heat to stimulate the area around the meibomian glands.

Like IPL, this helps break up blockages and encourage healthy tear production. It also helps produce new collagen in the area, which helps the glands recover quickly. This can be a long-lasting approach for treating dry eyes.

Where to Get Help for Dry Eyes

If you think you may have dry eye, come see our team at Dr. Chris Schell O.P.C. in Barrie. Our team can help you find relief from your dry eyes. Whether through eye drops, masks, IPL, or TempSure, your solution is right around the corner, so book an appointment with our team today!

Written by Dr. Chris Schell

Dr. Chris Schell attended the University of Waterloo, earning a Bachelor of Science degree with honours. Dr. Schell then pursued his Doctor of Optometry from Waterloo and graduated on the Dean’s honour list. In 2003, Dr. Schell began practicing optometry in Barrie and in March 2010, he opened his own vision care clinic. In April 2017, Dr. Schell received his Fellowship from the College of Optometrists in Vision Development, an achievement less than 1% of Canadian Optometrists have obtained. Dr. Schell is passionate about teaching his patients about their vision and eye health.

Dr. Schell is passionate about vision therapy, and its power and possibilities are endless! Dr. Schell is a proud member of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development and Optometric Extension Program Foundation. These two groups focus on educating practitioners and providing the resources to implement vision therapy in their clinics.

Dr. Schell is happily married and has 3 amazing young boys and a wonderful daughter. They love being active, and spending time with family and friends keeps them busy. Dr. Schell loves curling during the winter and golfing in the summer.

More Articles By Dr. Chris Schell
instagram facebook facebook2 pinterest twitter google-plus google linkedin2 yelp youtube phone location calendar share2 link star-full star star-half chevron-right chevron-left chevron-down chevron-up envelope fax