Diabetes is associated with several eye problems, one of which is dry eyes. This may be a small annoyance, but untreated and persistent dry eyes, also referred to as dry eye syndrome or disease, can cause severe eye damage and vision loss. The treatment for dry eyes will be determined by the severity of your symptoms and your overall diabetes management strategy. Many people who suffer from dry eyes due to diabetes discover that controlling their blood sugar levels helps alleviate their symptoms. Your Bronx optometrist may advise you to use artificial tears while working to keep your blood sugar levels under control. They may also prescribe eye drops or encourage you to buy an over-the-counter solution to help lubricate your eyes. Other treatments for dry eyes syndrome may include:
- Antibiotics – Antibiotics can help decrease inflammation in your eyelids and increase tear production. Your doctor may prescribe oral medicines or antibiotic eye drops.
- Eye drops – Inflammation can also be managed with eye drops containing the immune-suppressing drug cyclosporine (Restasis).
- Corticosteroids – If you have significant eye irritation, your physician may recommend corticosteroid eye drops. These eye drops will only be effective for a short period.
- Tear-inducing medicines – These drugs can aid in the production of tears in your eyes. They come in various forms, like eye drops and gels, and pills that you take orally.
- Closing or obstructing your tear ducts – To help keep tears in your eyes for longer, your tear ducts can be blocked up with small detachable collagen or silicone plugs. If a more permanent treatment is required, your tear ducts might be blocked with heat. These surgical therapies are normally only considered if all other forms of therapy have failed to alleviate dry eye problems.
The relationship between diabetes and dry eyes disease
Dry eye syndrome is a major complication of type 1 and type 2 diabetes. It occurs as a result of elevated blood sugar levels. When your blood sugar levels are high, it can cause nerve damage in your eyes, resulting in decreased tear production. In addition, elevated blood sugar levels can trigger inflammation throughout your body. This inflammation makes it difficult for your lacrimal glands to operate, which are the glands in your eyes that produce tears. If left untreated, dry eye disease can cause the following symptoms:
- Eye discomfort and pain.
- Scarring of the cornea.
- Loss of eyesight.
Fortunately, controlling your blood sugar and keeping it within a healthy range helps reduce your risk of dry eye syndrome. Eye drops and other therapies can also help to alleviate dry eye symptoms and avoid complications as you work with a healthcare professional to manage your diabetes.
When it is not caused by diabetes, dry eyes can sometimes be a short-term symptom that resolves on its own. For example, your eyes may be dry because you spent too much time in a particularly dry or windy environment or because you wore your contact lenses for too long. However, dry eyes caused by diabetes — or any underlying health and wellness condition — will need to be treated by a specialist.
If you have dry eye symptoms that do not go away after a few days, you should contact a doctor. Call Bainbridge Eye Care or book your appointment online to learn more about dry eyes syndrome.