Dry eye syndrome is a common disease in which the eye under-produces tears to form a tear film which moisturizes and lubricates the surface of the eye. A normal functioning eye constantly produces tears to form a tear film, which acts as moisturizer and lubricant. For someone with dry eye, the resulting lack of moisture and lubrication can cause a variety of problems.
Dry eye syndrome is typically more common in older people and women; however, there are many other factors that can cause this to happen. A common cause of dry eye can be over the counter and prescription medications such as antihistamines, beta-blockers, sleeping pills, pain relievers and many others. Overuse of diuretics can also play a role in developing dry eye. For this reason, it is very important to inform your ophthalmologist about any medications you are currently taking, which can help the doctor in the proper diagnosis of the disease.
symptoms may include:
- A burning, stinging or stratchy sensation in the eyes.
- Eyes may redden or become easily irritated by smoke or wind.
- The eyes may produce stringy mucus.
- Contact lenses may be difficult or impossible to wear.
- Sometimes the eye will produce excess tears or overflow.
- Artifical Tears: Mild to moderate cases of dry eye syndrome may be treated by applying artificial tear eye drops as little or as often as necessary. There are a wide range of products available without a prescription that the doctor can recommend.
- Prescription Medications: For those with chronic dry eye, these drops can increase the eye’s natural production of tears. It does this by targeting inflammation in the eye.
- Conserving Tears: An effective way to make better use of the tears in the eye is surgery to close the tear ducts, thus preventing existing tears from leaving the eye as quickly. This may be done temporarily, with punctual plugs made of collagen, or permanently with silicone plugs or by cauterizing the tear ducts closed.
- Controlling One’s Environment: Patients should avoid situations in which tears evaporate quickly; for example, by using a humidifier in a dry house, wearing wrap-around glasses in the wind, and not smoking.
At Olympus your Salt Lake City eye surgeon will take a holistic look at your eye health to construct a personalized treatment plan that will meet your needs, address any diabetic retinopathy symptoms, and ensure your vision health for years to come. We perform a comprehensive eye health screening, which allows us to diagnose and address eye conditions at the earliest sign. Early detection lets us begin corrective measures in time to prevent additional deterioration.
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We get asked questions about numerous things regarding eye care services. We’ve compiled some of the most common questions to help you on your search for your eye care needs.
For further information on these or other topics, please see the patient education portal on the American Academy of Ophthalmology website at aao.org/eyesmart.
First, it’s important to understand the tear film. Tears are primarily made of a combination of oil, water, and mucus. Any disruption in any of these factors will lead to dry eye. Dry eye is caused by lack of a consistent tear film, decreased tear production from the lacrimal gland, poor oil expression from the eyelids, or irregular mucus formed by the conjunctiva. As people age, hormonal changes can also affect tear production. Dry eye is more common in women after menopause. Dry eye is associated with inflammatory diseases of the eyes and body. Dry eye is also worsened by environmental factors – dry air or long exposure time on screens when we are focusing and may not be blinking as much.
There are many symptoms that patients experience with dry eye. Dryness, foreign body sensation, grittiness, burning, aching, redness, difficulty with contact lenses, blurred vision, fatigue, sharp or dull pain behind the eye, or headaches. Ironically, tearing is also a common symptom of dry eye.
Dry eye is an inflammatory condition. Aside from the symptoms of dry eye, it can also lead to damage to the glands and cells that improve the tear film leading to more dry eye. This can lead to dry eye which is more difficult to treat, so it is important to be treated early and consistently.
It depends. If dry eye is caused by an environmental factor – then adjusting that can be a simple fix. Driving or working with the air blowing directly at the eyes can be remedied simply by moving the direction of the fan. On the other hand, some underlying conditions like Sjogrens or blepharitis are chronic conditions that will require consistent maintenance.
Dry eye is treated with a variety of drops, home remedies, and also some procedures have proven beneficial. Frequent preservative free artificial tears are helpful. Avoid drops that say “Redness Relief” or “Get the Red Out” as these can lead to chronic rebound redness. Some recommended brands include: Retaine, Refresh, Systane, Blink. Warm compresses are another mainstay of dry eye treatment. Prescription eye drops, punctal plugs, IPL laser, meibomian gland expression, and fish oil or flaxseed oil by mouth are also options.