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Amniotic Membranes for Dry Eye: How This Treatment May Help You

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A woman experiencing dry eye symptoms

Many people regularly experience the uncomfortable symptoms of dry eye disease. Simple over-the-counter (OTC) treatments such as lubricating eye drops or home remedies like warm compresses are often enough to provide relief. Thanks to advances in medical science, there are other, more specialized treatments for persistent cases of dry eye.

Amniotic membranes are a specialized dry eye treatment your eye doctor may offer. This dry eye therapy uses natural tissue to help promote healing and provide protection in cases of persistent dry eye, especially those where the eye is getting damaged.

But there is no one-size-fits-all answer for dry eye treatment because each case is unique. So, the first step is to book an appointment with your eye doctor. They can tailor a plan and offer effective dry eye therapy options. 

Understanding Dry Eye

Dry eye is a common and often chronic condition characterized by insufficient moisture on the eye’s surface. If left untreated, it can lead to severe complications, such as extreme discomfort, visual disturbances, and even damage to the eye’s surface.

Understanding dry eye is crucial for managing its impact on your daily life and overall eye health. It also helps to understand the condition when choosing whether to ask about a treatment like amniotic membranes for dry eyes.

Causes of Dry Eye

Dry eye can arise from a variety of environmental, lifestyle, and health factors. Some of the most prevalent causes include:

  • Environmental factors: Exposure to wind, smoke, and dry climates can accelerate tear evaporation, leading to dry eye symptoms.
  • Lifestyle choices: Prolonged screen time, contact lens use, and not blinking enough during intense concentration can contribute to dry eye.
  • Health conditions: Certain systemic diseases, such as diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and thyroid disorders, can affect tear production and quality. Additionally, hormonal changes related to aging, pregnancy, or menopause may also play a role.

Symptoms & Diagnosis

Recognizing the symptoms of dry eye is pivotal for seeking timely help. Common signs include:

  • A stinging, burning, or scratchy sensation in the eyes
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Redness and irritation
  • A feeling of having something in your eyes
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses
  • Blurred vision or eye fatigue

If you experience these symptoms, it’s essential to consult with your eye doctor for a proper diagnosis. Dry eye diagnostic methods may involve a comprehensive eye exam, measurements of the volume and quality of your tears, and assessment of the surface of your eyes.

How Amniotic Membranes Help Treat Dry Eye

Amniotic membranes are natural tissues derived from the innermost layer of the placenta, which surrounds and protects the fetus during pregnancy. Amniotic membrane therapy (AMT) leverages the biological properties of these membranes to effectively treat dry eye disease.

When placed on the eye, amniotic membranes provide a protective barrier, promote healing, and reduce inflammation. This treatment helps restore the eye’s natural surface, encouraging healthy tissue regeneration and alleviating the symptoms associated with dry eyes.

The efficacy of amniotic membranes in treating dry eye lies in their composition. The components work together to modulate inflammation, reduce scar tissue formation, and accelerate wound healing.

Benefits of Amniotic Membranes over Traditional Treatments

While traditional treatments like artificial tears, anti-inflammatory medications, and punctal plugs offer temporary relief, amniotic membranes can tackle the root causes of dry eye. Here are some key benefits:

  • Long-lasting relief: Amniotic membranes provide sustained improvement in dry eye symptoms, reducing the need for frequent applications of artificial tears.
  • Anti-inflammatory properties: These membranes help reduce inflammation, a core issue in dry eye syndrome.
  • Promote regeneration: They encourage natural healing and help regenerate the damaged tissue on the ocular surface.
  • Minimal side effects: Because the procedure is noninvasive and uses natural tissue, amniotic membranes are well-tolerated with a low risk of complications.
A close-up view of a woman's blue eyes

How to Get Amniotic Membrane Treatment

The first step is to consult a qualified eye doctor if you’re considering amniotic membrane therapy for dry eye. They can evaluate the severity of your condition, discuss the potential benefits, and determine if AMT is the right option for you.

What’s AMT Like?

Getting AMT isn’t an overly complicated process. Every treatment may not be identical. But you can expect it to go a certain way:

  • The eye doctor places a device on your eye to keep your eyelids open.
  • They place the amniotic membrane graft on your eye.
  • The eye doctor uses sutures or special glue to hold the membrane in place. Depending on the type of tissue used, they may also use a bandage.

You’ll typically recover within approximately a week when the membranes naturally dissolve in your eyes. You may experience blurry vision while you have the membranes in your eyes, so you’ll have to use your judgment when doing things that require clear vision.

Discuss Your Dry Eyes with Your Eye Doctor

Innovative treatments like amniotic membrane therapy offer new hope for patients seeking relief from the increasing prevalence of dry eye disease. Amniotic membrane grafting can be an effective way to relieve dry eye for many people.

Call our team at Higgins Brothers’ Vision Care to book an appointment today. One of our experienced optometrists can examine your eyes and determine if amniotic membranes are the right choice. We can also pursue one of our other available dry eye treatments.

Dr. Donald J. Higgins

Written by Dr. Donald J. Higgins

Dr. Donald J. Higgins is the founder and Medical Director of the Dry Eye Treatment Center of Connecticut, a clinic specializing in diagnosing and treating dry eye disease. This clinic features Tear Lab, Oculus with Crystal Dry Eye Report, Equinox LLLT, Lipiflow, and Lumenis OptiLight treatments.

Dr. Higgins decided to become an eye doctor his junior year in high school and has never looked back. In his undergraduate studies, Dr. Higgins received the Trustees Prize in Science, the highest award presented to a science student. He graduated from Boston College in 1978 and began attending the New England College of Optometry. After graduating in 1982, he returned to his hometown of Plainville and has been in private practice ever since.

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