Family Eyecare Associates

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Family Eyecare Associates

Tacoma, WA

Dry Eye Specialist

Relieve Dry, Itchy Eyes

Diagnosis and Treatment for Dry Eye, Tacoma, WA

Dry eye can impact your quality of life and make it difficult to perform everyday tasks. Our skilled dry eye specialist eye doctors Dr. Spencer Garlick, Dr. Zaccary Pincock, and Dr. Sharon Williams diagnose and treat dry eye and can help you find relief and improve your overall eye health.

What are the symptoms of dry eye?

Dry eye, also known as dry eye disease or dry eye syndrome, can occur when your eyes don’t produce enough tears, or the tears produced aren’t of sufficient quality to properly lubricate your eyes.  Dry eye can also occur when the tears produced evaporate too quickly.  

If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you may have dry eye: 

  • Redness and irritation 
  • A gritty or sandy feeling in the eyes 
  • Blurred vision 
  • Light sensitivity 
  • Eye fatigue or discomfort 
  • Difficulty wearing contact lenses 
  • Increased tear production (watery eyes)  

If left untreated, severe dry eyes may lead to more serious issues like corneal ulcers, infections, and scarring. 

What causes dry eye?

There are several reasons why people develop dry eye. If you’re experiencing dry eye symptoms, it’s important to understand what’s causing it to determine the best treatment.


As we age, our tear production naturally decreases, leading to dry eyes. Many people over age 65 have some dry eye symptoms.


Women are more likely to experience dry eyes because of hormonal changes during pregnancy, menopause, or when taking oral contraceptives.

Certain medical conditions

Certain medical conditions, including diabetes, thyroid disorders, and autoimmune diseases, can increase the risk of dry eye.


Some medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants, and antidepressants, can cause dry eye as a side effect.

Environmental factors

Exposure to dry or windy climates, air conditioning, and heating systems can all contribute to dry eye.

Digital eye strain

Spending long hours in front of digital screens, such as computers and smartphones, can lead to dry eye symptoms. This is because you tend to blink less while staring at screens.  

Meibomian gland dysfunction

Meibomian glands are tiny glands found in the eyelids that produce an oily substance called meibum. This oil helps keep the tears from evaporating too quickly, maintaining a healthy film on the surface of the eye. However, when there is a problem with these glands, it can lead to a condition called meibomian gland dysfunction or MGD.

MGD is one of the leading causes of dry eye syndrome. When the meibomian glands aren’t functioning properly, it can result in a lower quantity or quality of oil on the eye’s surface.


Blepharitis is a condition in which the eyelids become inflamed, red, and swollen. It can affect one or both eyes and can cause itchiness, irritation, and a burning sensation. Some people can also experience flaking or crusting of the eyelashes.

Blepharitis can cause or worsen dry eye symptoms in some people. When the eyelids get inflamed, the meibomian glands, which produce oil to keep the eyes lubricated, may get blocked or not work properly. That can lead to dry, gritty, or burning eyes because of reduced tear quality and quantity.

Demodex mites

Demodex mites are microscopic creatures that live on our skin and hair follicles. While it is normal to have a small population of Demodex mites on our skin, an overgrowth can lead to various skin and eye problems, including dry eye. If you have too many Demodex mites living on your eyelashes, they can clog the meibomian glands, resulting in dry eye symptoms.


Cosmetics can block the meibomian glands, which produce the oil layer in the tear film. Without that oil layer, the tears evaporate more quickly, causing dryness and irritation. Some makeup products also contain chemicals that can irritate the eyes and lead to dryness.

latest diagnostic technology

Diagnosing dry eye

The doctors at Family EyeCare Associates use the latest diagnostic technology to evaluate patients for dry eye disease. If you’re experiencing any symptoms, we can diagnose and determine the underlying cause of your specific case.

OCULUS Keratograph® 5M corneal topographer

One of the technologies we use to accurately diagnose dry eye is the OCULUS Keratograph® 5M corneal topographer. This device captures high-resolution images of your eyes and produces a 3D map of the surface of the cornea, allowing us to identify the root cause of your dry eye and develop a customized treatment plan based on your unique needs. We can also compare images from before and after treatment to ensure your treatment is working effectively.

treatment options

Dry eye treatment

At Family EyeCare Associates, we offer a range of treatment options to help relieve your dry eye symptoms and improve your eye health. While dry eye can be an ongoing issue, our treatments are designed to help you maintain healthy eyes, reduce dryness and discomfort, and prevent vision loss. Our eye doctors may recommend the following treatments:


  • Prescription eye drops  
  • Lifestyle changes like taking breaks from screens 
  • Treating oil glands   
  • Punctal plugs 
  • If an infection is causing the issue, low-dose antibiotics may also be prescribed.   

OptiLight intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy

We also offer OptiLight intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy for dry eye in our Tacoma office. IPL therapy is a non-invasive treatment option that uses pulses of light to improve the function of the meibomian glands, which are responsible for producing the oily layer of tears. This can help reduce dry eye symptoms and improve tear quality.

Schedule a dry eye evaluation in Tacoma

If you are experiencing symptoms of dry eye, don’t suffer in silence. Schedule an appointment with our experienced eye doctors at Family EyeCare Associates in Tacoma, Washington. We are committed to providing you with personalized care and effective treatments to help you find relief from dry eye. Contact us today to schedule your dry eye evaluation.

See Clearly, Live Fully

Personalized Eye Exams

We tailor our eye exams to meet the unique needs of each patient. Whether you're looking for an adult eye exam, a contact lens evaluation, or pediatric eye care, we offer high-quality, personalized care you can trust.

Specialty Eye Care

From managing chronic eye diseases to treating common eye discomforts, Family EyeCare Associates is dedicated to providing the best eye care possible.

Optical Boutique

We offer a wide range of eyeglasses and sunglasses in Tacoma for both adults and children. If you prefer contact lenses, we offer a variety of contact lens types and brands for you to choose from.