Dry Eye Treatment in Fredericksburg, VA

Serving Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Stafford, King George and the surrounding counties for over 40 years

Are you one of the estimated 4.88 million Americans that suffer from dry eye? At Access Eye, we can treat dry eye through various different methods.

The surface of the eye is continuously coated with a very complex, efficient and clear tear film. This tear film is generated within a gland in the upper and outer portion of the eye socket (Lacrimal Gland) as well as augmented by the secretions from the cells of the various layers that cover the eye. For a variety of reasons, it is common to have a lower than necessary level of tears (Dry Eye). The results range from mere annoyance to severe, serious problems with instability of vision and lack of integrity of the surface of the eye.

At Access Eye we have a long tradition of aggressively identifying and treating these problems in early stages. We have specific tests that indicate the presence of dry eye and its potential association with any underlying inflammation. Once diagnosed, treatment can range from supplemental artificial tears in mild cases to various mechanical ways of increasing the amount of tears available to the eye (Lacrimal Plugs). Medication to improve the secretion of tears is prescribed in select cases.

What Is Dry Eye?

Normally, the eye constantly bathes itself in tears. By producing tears at a slow and steady rate, the eye stays moist and comfortable.

But sometimes people do not produce enough tears to keep their eyes healthy and comfortable. Tear production normally decreases as we age or as a response to certain medical conditions or medications.

Alternatively, the quality of tears may be sufficient but not the quality. If the meibomian glands that produce the oily layer of the tear film become clogged or blocked, tears evaporate at an increased rate, and the eyes dry out.

Although dry eye can occur in both men and women at any age, it is more common in women.


Common symptoms of dry eye disease include:

  • Stinging or burning eyes
  • Scratchiness
  • Stringy mucous in or around the eyes
  • Excessive eye irritation from smoke or wind
  • Excess tearing
  • Discomfort when wearing contact lenses

If you are experiencing persistent symptoms of dry eye, you should see a doctor at Access Eye for a comprehensive evaluation.

Diagnosing Dry Eye Disease

Our doctors diagnose dry eye by examining the eyes — particularly the surface of the eyes — and testing the volume and quality of the tears. Tests are also performed to evaluate the composition of the tears.

Dry Eye Treatment Options

Access Eye offers different treatment options for dry eye disease. Some treatments are intended to improve tear quantity or quality and others are designed to prevent tears from evaporating too quickly off the surface of the eyes. Using artificial tears can help alleviate some of the uncomfortable symptoms.

Depending on the circumstances of your case, we may prescribe medication to stimulate the production of tears. Another option is to temporarily or permanently close your tear ducts to conserve your eyes’ own tears. We can do this by placing tiny silicone plugs in the tear ducts. This is a safe and effective procedure, performed in our clinic.

Our doctors can also recommend lifestyle modifications that may ease symptoms of dry eyes. For example, adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet can help, as can taking frequent breaks when using digital devices and avoiding especially dry or smoky environments.

OptiLight Dry Eye Treatment

OptiLight treatment FredericksburgOptiLight is a non-invasive dry eye treatment that uses light energy to address symptoms of meibomian gland dysfunction (MGD). The Lumenis technology is the first and only IPL (intense pulsed light) device FDA-approved for dry eye disease. OptiLight treatments are gentle, safe, and effective based on over 20 clinical studies. MGD causes 86% of dry eye cases, making OptiLight a viable option for most people with dry eye disease.

This dry eye treatment is approved for patients 22 and older and works best when combined with other dry eye treatments, meibomian gland expression, lubricating eye drops, and warm compresses. OptiLight uses intense, broad-spectrum light to improve MGD by focusing on reducing inflammation of the oil glands lining the eyelids, which is a crucial factor in gland dysfunction. The device is designed to reach the sensitive contours of the eyelids and delivers light pulses to decrease inflammation in multiple ways, including:

  • Reducing Demodex mites and bacteria around the eyes
  • Eliminating specific blood vessels that add to inflammation, such as ocular rosacea
  • Decreasing tear film evaporation
  • Restoring the function of the meibomian glands

OptiLight Treatment

OptiLight treatment StaffordBefore your treatment, you’ll meet with our Premium Services Coordinator who is trained and certified to perform OptiLight procedures. He will discuss your treatment and perform a test patch to ensure OptiLight is right for you. Four sessions are typically needed, spaced two to four weeks apart, and these non-invasive treatments take just 10 to 15 minutes.

During OptiLight sessions, your eyes are thoroughly protected and covered with shields. A thin gel will be spread onto the treatment area and then we apply the device directly onto your skin. Patients report warm sensations as the light pulses over their skin, with little to no discomfort. Immediately following your treatment, your doctor will examine the treatment area and perform a meibomian gland expression, which safely and painlessly extracts oil from the eyelids and prevents clogging in the glands. Successful meibomian gland expression helps increase the quality of oil production of the glands and decreases your dry eye symptoms.

OptiLight is a gentle treatment that builds results with each session. Most patients experience improvement in dry eye symptoms after their second or third OptiLight session. Maintenance appointments are typically needed every six to 12 months to keep symptoms at bay.

OptiLight Recovery

No downtime is needed after OptiLight treatment. You can return to your daily activities right away, but there are some limitations for 24 to 48 hours after your session. You may have some redness, dry skin, and peeling; make sure you don’t scratch or peel the skin while it heals. You will need to stay away from direct sunlight for a few days because the treated skin is more susceptible to sunburn. We recommend using SPF 30 or higher sunscreen on the eye area for at least one week after OptiLight treatment, and you may use moisturizing cream to ease dry skin or peeling. Patients can typically resume wearing makeup 24 to 48 hours after treatment, but you’ll need to avoid some skincare products, such as retinol, benzoyl peroxide, and glycolic acids.

Avoid hot showers, baths, and hot tubs while the skin recovers, and stay away from strenuous exercises that may cause the skin to overheat and sweat. You can resume these activities one to two days after OptiLight treatment.


Dry Eye Treatment

What are the risk factors for dry eye disease?

Dry eye has been associated with the following factors:

  • Older age – i.e., after age 50
  • Contact lens wear
  • Working or living in a dry, smoky or windy environment
  • Smoking
  • Certain health conditions – e.g., diabetes, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren’s syndrome
  • Prolonged computer use that slows down normal blink rate
  • Certain medications – e.g., antihistamines, antidepressants, birth control pills

Is dry eye serious?

If left untreated, it can be. The most serious cases of dry eye can damage the ocular surface and permanently harm vision. But with the expertise of our dry eye specialists, we will get your case under control and give you relief from uncomfortable symptoms.

How can I manage dry eyes at night?

If you find your dry eye symptoms peak at night, there are several strategies you can try. Lubricating tears, gels and ointments that coat the eyes at night can help. A sleep mask or eye seal may help preserve moisture, too. If these at-home remedies do not work, it is best to consult with the Access Eye team about the root cause of the problem.

I heard watery eyes can be a symptom of dry eye disease. How is that possible?

Although it sounds unusual, watery eyes can suggest dry eye disease. When your eyes are not adequately lubricated, they can produce an abundance of tears. However, these tears are overly watery and do not have enough oil and mucous to stick to the surface of the eyes; as a result, they wash away from the eyes quickly. The solution is to rebalance the tear film and introduce more oil and mucous back to the tear film so the tears “stick” to the ocular surface longer.