What If I Have Dry Eye and Cataracts?

Woman suffering from dry eyes and cataracts

It is not uncommon for patients to have both dry eye and cataracts at the same time. After all, both of their biggest risk factors are getting older.

Cataract surgery involves incisions, meaning that eye tissue is cut. This can worsen a preexisting dry eye problem.

Does that mean that you will be unable to receive cataract surgery if you have chronic dry eyes? Of course not, it means that you will likely have to take steps to treat your dry eye before the surgery. Keep reading for tips on treating your dry eye!

Treating Dry Eye

When treating dry eye, it is important to figure out the root of the problem. In most cases, dry eye occurs because you aren’t producing enough tears or they are of low quality.

If you have low-quality tears, it usually means that you’re missing oil. Oil is an important part of the components that make up tears.

A tear has 3 components: oil, water, and mucin. If any of these components are missing, you end up with a low-quality tear.

Treating dry eye because of under-producing tears

A few different tactics are often used to treat eyes that are under-producing tears. One of the most popular methods is to use something called punctal plugs.

These are actual, physical plugs placed into the drainage part of the tear ducts. This helps keep tears on the surface of the eye longer.

The process to put them in is painless, fast, and completely reversible. Temporary punctal plugs are often used first. This can help determine if they are useful to the particular patient.

Temporary punctal plugs dissolve into the body and are completely harmless. There are also semi-permanent punctal plugs. If you have these, their removal requires a separate but basic procedure.

Treating dry eye because of low-quality tears

To correct an issue with a lack of oil, you may try meibomian gland expression therapy. The meibomian glands are underneath the eyelids.

When your tears are low quality, these glands can become blocked with a waxy residue. Gland expression therapy uses a combination of gentle heat and pressure.

This combination relaxes the glands and allows the residue to escape. If you aren’t producing enough oil, your tears will evaporate faster than normal.

This is a problem because if the tears don’t stay on your eyes for long enough, they can’t receive nutrients. Once the root of your dry eye is identified, you can receive medication to treat it.

Medications can help fight your lack of tears, as well as meibomian gland blockages. If you’re experiencing eyelid or corneal inflammation, there are medications as well.

These medications can help reduce the inflammation that you’re dealing with. Most are usually taken orally, but there are eye drops available as well. You may also be prescribed medication that stimulates tear production.

Ask About Dry Eye During Your Cataract Screening

If you have symptoms like red or itchy eyes, mention them during your cataract screening. During your screening, you’ll undergo a series of tests.

These help determine if you need dry eye treatment before cataract surgery. If you do, your eye doctor will come up with a plan of action to follow.

Have cataracts and dry eye symptoms? Schedule a cataract screening at Eye Physicians & Surgeons of Arizona in Glendale, AZ!

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