Dry eyes are typically a chronic condition that do not change quickly or worsen in a short period of time; however, some dry eye symptoms may present as a flare up which can worsen quickly.
Common Dry Eye Symptoms
Dry eyes are one of the most common complaints among patients. Dry eyes may present with a variety of symptoms including eye irritation, the feeling of something in the eyes, having to blink to see clearly, and may others.
Symptoms of dry eyes are very subjective and may vary between person to person. Since there is a wide array of potential symptoms for dry eyes, it is common to attribute most symptoms associated with eye irritation or scratchiness to dryness if another cause is not identified.
Most of the common symptoms associated with dry eyes are chronic symptoms. These symptoms persist for weeks or months and are usually only lessened by use of artificial tears or other dry eye drops.
Symptoms of a Dry Eye Flare Up
Unlike chronic dry eyes, a dry eye flare up will occur over only a few days and symptoms will progress much quicker.
The most common symptoms of a dry eye flare up include a painful sensation of something in the eye, excessive watering or tearing, and having to blink much more frequently and rapidly.
While these symptoms are similar to those that are experienced in chronic dry eyes, the hallmark difference is the rate at which these symptoms progress.
A dry eye flare up may begin overnight and the symptoms reach the height of severity within 24 to 48 hours.
Identifying a Dry Eye Flare Up
A dry eye flare up must be identified and diagnosed as opposed to other potential causes of the same or similar symptoms.
To diagnose a dry eye flare up, an eye doctor will perform several tests to evaluate the health of the front of your eyes and ask different questions regarding symptoms and the circumstances around the flare up.
If a dry eye flare up is diagnosed, the eye doctor can select the best treatment option at the time and the best preventative method to prevent future dry eye flare ups.
Treatments Available for Dry Eye Flare Ups
There are several different treatments available for a dry eye flare up. Depending on the symptoms and the severity of the symptoms, an eye doctor can select the most appropriate treatment.
For mild symptoms of irritation or dryness, artificial tears can be used multiple times a day to provide necessary lubrication to the front of the eyes.
For moderate to severe symptoms, there are prescription eye drops including steroid eye drops which have been shown to speed recovery and reduce symptoms of dry eye flare ups.
For severe symptoms, there are protective treatment techniques including a bandage contact lens or amniotic membrane which can be placed on the front of the eye and used to prevent additional damage and relieve eye pain.
After a treatment is initiated, it is also important to consider taking preventative measures which may include a full dry eye work up or treatment regimen.