Dry Eyes

Dry eye disease is a chronic condition that requires  medical evaluation and management. Our doctors take a “whole body” approach to evaluating your dry eye disease. Here are some of the tests and procedures we offer, in addition to medication management:

Schirmer and Lysine Testing

To determine if your tear glands produce enough tears to keep your eyes adequately moist, we use a Schirmer’s test. Schirmer’s test determines whether the eye produces enough tears to keep it moist. The test is performed when a doctor places filter paper on the inside of the lower eyelid in both eyes and the patient closes their eyes. This is done to track the travel distance of the tears your eyes will produce. After 5 minutes, the doctor then assesses how far the tears have traveled on the paper. 

About the Procedure

A person about to undergo the test will need to remove their contact lenses or glasses. Those with contacts should bring glasses and patients should avoid rubbing their eyes for about 30 minutes after the test. Additionally, they should not wear contact lenses for about 2 hours following the test. 

You may need numbing drops depending on your situation. If your eyes are healthy, each strip of paper should contain more than 10 millimeters of moisture. Less than 10 millimeters of moisture indicates you probably have dry eye syndrome. 

Most people consider the unanesthetized test to be mildly irritating or uncomfortable, although prior to the test, a doctor may ask the person about their tolerance for having something touching their eye.

Punctal Plugs and Stents

Punctal plugs, also called lacrimal plugs, are tiny devices used to treat dry eye syndrome. Having dry eye syndrome means your eyes don’t produce enough quality tears to keep your eyes lubricated. Symptoms of dry eye include:

  • Burning
  • Scratchiness
  • Blurry vision

Having ongoing dryness prompts the body to produce more tears with mostly water, which doesn’t adequately moisten your eyes. When this happens, your body make more tears than your eyes can hold, which often leads to overflow. 

Dry eye syndrome can often be improved with the combination of over-the-counter artificial tears and a few lifestyle changes. If that doesn’t work, your eye doctor can prescribe medication that helps you produce more tears

Punctal plug insertions are done on an outpatient basis. During the procedure the patient is awake, as it is a noninvasive procedure that requires only a few anesthetic eye drops.

Before getting punctal plugs, you’ll need a comprehensive eye examination from your physician. If your doctor recommends punctal plugs as your best option, you’ll have to decide between temporary punctal plugs, which are made of collagen, and dissolve after a few months or plugs made of silicone meant to last for years.

Your doctor will use a special instrument to insert the plugs which can cause some minor discomfort, but it’s generally not painful. From beginning to end, the procedure should only take a few minutes. Once the plugs are in, you are unlikely to feel them and you should be able to resume normal activities, like driving, immediately.